About Us

Our Vision: URISA connects people and resources in the geospatial community.

Our Mission: URISA is a multi-disciplinary geospatial organization that provides professional education and training, a vibrant and connected community, advocacy for geospatial challenges and issues, and essential resources. URISA fosters excellence in GIS and engages geospatial professionals throughout their careers.

In addition to numerous educational programs, URISA  provides resources including the peer-reviewed URISA Journal, The GIS Professional newsletter, and the thousands of conference proceedings papers included in the URISA Body of Knowledge.  Opportunities to contribute are abundant. There is a place for you in URISA

Brief History

URISA emanated from a conference held on August 28, 1963 on the campus of the University of Southern California, organized by Edgar Horwood and attended by 48 people to trade information on developments in regional information systems. This was billed as the ‘First Annual Conference on Urban Planning Information Systems and Programs.’ Additional annual conferences were held from 1964 through 1966 in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Berkeley.  At the 1966 Berkeley Conference, attendees approved a Constitution establishing the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). 

The conference held in 1967 in Garden City, New York was the first called the URISA Annual Conference. However, URISA considers that its first conference was the one held in 1963 on the USC Campus in Los Angeles.

Edgar Horwood founded URISA and was its first president.  Horwood provided intellectual leadership toward building an interdisciplinary association and served as a constructive critic in the development of ethical practices in the emerging area of applying information systems technology to urban and regional applications.   He patterned URISA after the Regional Science Association, an inclusive interest association, not an exclusive professional society overly concerned with credentials.

  • In preparation for URISA's 50th Annual Conference in 2012, a number of industry luminaries collaborated on a retrospective publication celebrating the influence of URISA over the years.  The 300-page book, Foundations of Urban and Regional Information Systems and Geographic Information Systems and Science, discusses the significant research, education, training, and applications foundations that URISA and its members have contributed to urban and regional information systems and geographic information systems and science.

Click here for more information about URISA's esteemed history. 


  • URISA established the GIS Hall of Fame to honor persons and organizations that have made significant and original contributions to the development and application of GIS concepts, tools, or resources, or to the GIS profession. 
  • URISA developed and adopted a A GIS Code of Ethics in 2003 to help guide GIS professionals preserve and enhance public trust in the profession. The Code was subsequently adopted by the GIS Certification Institute as a key part of its program. 
  • URISA is the founding member of the GIS Certification Institute, the organization that administers professional certification for the field and is dedicated to advancing the industry.
  • GISCorps, which provides volunteer GIS support for underdeveloped countries and to support disaster recovery efforts, was organized as a URISA program in 2003.
  • URISA's Vanguard Cabinet (VC) is an advisory board made up of passionate, young geospatial professionals The VC works to create programs of benefit to young professionals and to enhance overall innovation, collaboration, networking, and professional development opportunities.
  • URISA assists government agencies with benchmarking GIS maturity through its GIS Management Institute.
  • URISA Chapters are numerous, from Alaska to the Caribbean. Discover a local URISA network and get involved. 
  • URISA is also a founding member of the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO). COGO was developed to provide a forum for organizations concerned with U.S. national geospatial issues that will 1) improve communications among the member organizations (and others), 2) provide educational information on relevant issues for their respective memberships, 3) align and strengthen their respective policy agendas, and 4) facilitate development of strategies to address national issues.


In order to make sure URISA is positioned to support both current and future GIS professionals, we need to reach beyond our existing member services and programs and invest in the future. We need to substantially increase our virtual education offerings, foster the development of best practices and standards, and support the continued expansion of URISA’s GIS Management Institute®. All contributions will be used to further the mission of URISA through the expansion of existing programs and the development of new programs for the association and its members.

Contributions to URISA— a 501(c) (3) organization — are tax deductible as charitable donations. 

"I can't honestly say there was one specific moment that endeared me to URISA. But there were a number of situations where it became apparent to me that this association was focused on things that were important to me in the development of my career and my efforts to improve processes within my work environment. I don't know of any other association where I have been able to learn so much from those experienced in the integration of technologies and spatially enabling the enterprise. And the network of associates that I have developed over my years of involvement with URISA have been most supportive and rewarding. Its just the best place to be and to be involved!"

clientuploads/directory/Photos/dhaley.JPGDianne Haley, BSc, MScGIS, GISP - Calgary, Alberta - URISA member since 1994


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