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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates, Education & Resources


Instead of a natural disaster like an earthquake or hurricane which are isolated to a specific location, we are ALL facing an abundance of threats and anxiety related to the Coronavirus crisis. Whether we are faced with fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, or major oil spills, a digital response has become as critical to a successful outcome as the responders on the ground. GIS has become a common platform for data exchange, analysis, collection, and communication. We are already seeing innovative applications emerging. GIS is already proving to be of great value to the emergency management and health disciplines, but we are seeing an emergence of its applications during this response to adjust elections processes, keep businesses on track, protect at-risk populations, ensure transportation networks are moving, optimize food distribution, and more.


The COVID-19 response offers an opportunity for the GIS community to come together, apply new ideas, and document lessons learned. URISA’s GISCorps is a prime example of this coming together for a common good, matching volunteers with GIS skills to organizations who need support. They have responded to hundreds of calls for support for nearly 20 years and their collective experiences have been immeasurable in contributing to the speed of recovery, the quality of decisions and positive impact on people’s lives in trying times.  

Hundreds of URISA GISCorps volunteers have been working since March to build a nationwide COVID-19 Testing Sites feature service. These volunteers scour the websites of health departments, healthcare providers, and cities, counties and states to find and verify testing site locations and requirements.

That spatial dataset is accessible to the public on FindCOVIDTesting.com as well as on GISCorps’ own Testing Site Locator app. It’s available to all levels of government and many NGOs on FEMA’s COVID-19 Geospatial Resource Center and to anyone—including researchers, journalists, government agencies, NGOs, and the public—on the GISCorps COVID-19 Resources open data site.

Anyone can filter our data by state, county, or municipality and display it in their organization’s Testing Site Locator web app. (There’s a Testing Site Locator app ready to go in the Esri Disaster Response Program’s COVID-19 Testing Sites solution.) GISCorps has also developed an interactive dashboard providing insights into the state of COVID-19 testing in the United States and its territories.

Now, as testing expands and resources wear thin, URISA's GISCorps needs your help to keep this nationwide testing site location data accurate and comprehensive.

If you are a testing provider or you maintain testing site data for a government agency, here’s how you can contribute:

  1. Add a testing site to the map (or update one) using this form: https://arcg.is/10S1ib. Volunteers verify each site before making its location public.
  2. Submit testing site locations in bulk by filling out a copy of this Google Sheet and emailing it to admin@giscorps.org: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1NuTVYoela8e_rXeNlHkE_IBpDxYcOUnnW_OIGV_kcXc/edit?usp=sharing
  3. If you are a GIS professional, consider joining GISCorps and adding and updating the testing sites you manage directly in our Volunteer Portal. Email admin@giscorps.org if you’re interested in this option.

URISA's GISCorps volunteers are also validating submissions for two other important COVID-19 projects to commemorate lost loved ones and stories of recovery.

Open Community Forum: COVID-19 Technology & GIS Hot Wash Part 1

Open Community Forum: COVID-19 Technology & GIS Hot Wash
Tuesday, August 25 from 2:00-3:30 PM Eastern

Hosts: NAPSG Foundation, NSGIC & URISA 

This Open Community Forum directly supports the work of the National Pandemic GIS Task Force, which is a joint effort by NAPSG Foundation, NSGIC, and URISALearn more about the Task Force

Call for Participation.  On behalf of NAPSG Foundation, NSGIC, and URISA – we are requesting your participation in the Inventory of Data Feeds for Health/Medical Capabilities.

Our request: We are requesting the geospatial community to participate in a nationwide effort to build an inventory of existing data feeds for health/medical capability reporting in support of COVID-19 - and for increasing public health data preparedness.

Action – We need YOU to participate!  Please take 5 minutes today to complete the Inventory Form: https://arcg.is/1XjG0S

More information


Like the emergency responses in the past, there is much to learn from the COVID-19 efforts. We plan to share these best practices with you at future URISA webinars and events so we can scale our understanding and continue to prove the important role GIS plays in our world.

We are committed to providing the resources and tools you need to help meet today’s very difficult challenges. We'll continuously update the lists below. Please email your suggestions and additional links and opportunities.

With over one billion views, most of us have seen the GIS dashboard that Johns Hopkins University has stood up to track the global spread and monitor impacted regions. The COVID-19 GIS Hub is another resource. It contains maps, datasets, tools, and other material to help your organization respond. It’s a leading example of how you can rapidly scale and deliver information and resources to a community. Sites like these are helping guide states, counties, and cities to localize the data and implement applications within their own jurisdictions. Also check out Esri's Disaster Response Program (DRP) for complimentary GIS technology and expertise when your capacity is exceeded. 


With most upcoming in-person conferences and events being cancelled or postponed, take advantage of other virtually-delivered education, including:

  • Esri MOOCs: These free online classes offer a convenient, effective, and fun way to keep up with the fast-paced developments in geospatial technology. Classes are four to six weeks long and participants can study whenever they have spare time. A certificate is available upon completion.
  • TeachMeGIS: Fee-based online education and training. 
  • Take the time to investigate Master's degree programs or earn a GIS certificate offered by our Education Partners

Keep your kids occupied with geography:

Professional Development

Recent URISA Recorded Webinars that you may have missed:

  • URISA Pandemic Panel: Perspectives from Across the Country: View Webinar - Password: 2R#18$&0
  • Roadmap for Implementing NG911 GIS Data Model, Part 1:  View Webinar 
  • NASA Disasters Program and Mapping Portal Overview: View Webinar
  • NextGen 9-1-1: What GIS Professionals Need to Know:  View Webinar
  • GIS and Public Health:  View Webinar
  • URISA GISP Preparation: 

Recent URISA  Podcasts you may have missed (in partnership with Directions Magazine):

GIS Certification - work on your portfolio and learn about the GISP exam.


URISA's GISCorps - GISCorps has not yet received an official project request related to this crisis. However, it is recommended that you can use your GIS skills to help out a local shelter, environmental group or other nonprofit that you care about. Take the GIS Service Pledge and get a free ArcGIS personal use license to work on a meaningful project. 

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap: In regards to COVID-19, HOT has not yet received an official request. In light of that, they are suggesting that local OpenStreetMap Chapters &  Communities launch projects to map resources that are lacking in your area.  HOT suggests remote mapping events while COVID-19 remains a significant threat to public health. Here is some guidance on how to conduct a successful remote mapathon. More



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