Don Cooke to Discuss Volunteered Geographic Information at CalGIS 2011

CalGIS is very pleased to announce Don Cooke as the closing keynote speaker at the 17th Annual California GIS Conference in Fresno, March 28-31, 2011. Donald Cooke is Community Maps Evangelist at Esri.

Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) is embodied in operations ranging from the Open Street Map to user feedback channels for Google Maps and personal navigation devices.  The biggest challenge for VGI is turning a large number of citizen reports into the kind of authoritative data that we’ve grown to expect from maps.

Esri’s new Community Maps program takes a unique slant on VGI by empowering authoritative stewards of spatial data to contribute to a global map at scales down to 1:1000.  Don will present a history and examples of VGI applications with emphasis on Esri’s “Maps and Apps” program.

Mr. Cooke will deliver his keynote address on Thursday, March 31, 2011, at CalGIS in Fresno, California. For more information, visit

Don Cooke has worked with digital mapping and geospatial technologies for 43 years, starting as a researcher in the New Haven Census Use Study. Don was a key member of the Use Study team that developed the Dual Independent Map Encoding (DIME) method of encoding street maps.  The DIME innovation led directly to the nationwide Census Bureau TIGER files which constitute the most complete public domain street database in the world.  In 1980, Don founded Geographic Data Technology, the first private company to produce and license digital maps as a product.  GDT was a major contractor to the Census Bureau in creating the TIGER database; in 2004 Tele Atlas bought GDT for $100,000,000.

At GDT and Tele Atlas, Don served in many roles, most recently that of Chief Scientist.  In the 1990s he performed pioneering work on GPS and digital map accuracy and was first to adapt the new Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) map standard, NSSDA (National Standard for Spatial Data Accuracy) to digital street maps. A recent Tele Atlas project determined accuracy of consumer GPS units to prove the viability of crowdsourcing road alignments for personal navigation devices.

Don has written a wide range of publications, ranging from monthly columns in GIS magazines to a book “Fun with GPS”, published by ESRI Press. He was a member of the Mapping Science Committee of the National Academy of Science in the early 1990s and currently serves as a member of the NAS Panel to Review the 2010 Census. In 2007 he received the ESRI Lifetime Achievement award to complement URISA’s Horwood award and election to the URISA Hall of Fame. He is a 1967 graduate of Yale and studied Civil Engineering Systems at MIT.

[Source: URISA press release]