Topography and technology will merge this week as part of the 2006 West Virginia Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Forum and Workshops being held on the West Virginia University campus.

The conference will begin today, May 15, and run through Friday, May 19, at various locations, including White Hall and the Mountainlair ballrooms.

WVU President David Hardesty will speak at the forum at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, followed by Kyle Schafer, chief technology officer for West Virginia , at 11:45 a.m. Both talks are scheduled in the Lair ballroom.

WVU ’s Department of Geology and Geography and GIS Technical Center along with the state GIS coordinator’s office are organizing the event.

Geographic information systems are computer-based mapping systems that combine layers of information about a place, providing users with a better understanding of an area. The data include elevation, hydrology, roads, cultural features, vegetation and soils.

The GIS Technical Center at WVU is the premiere GIS facility in the region, providing focus, direction and leadership to users of GIS , digital mapping and remote sensing within the state.

Recently, the state of West Virginia completed aerial photography of the entire state on a 1/4800 scale resolution. The GIS Technical Center at WVU converted that data to a statewide 3-meter digital elevation model, the only state to do so. The aerial photography and elevation models are publicly available and can be viewed on the tech center website

In addition, various presentations and posters will be presented at the forum discussing the latest in geospatial projects and initiatives within and around the state. Topics to be covered include mining, flood mapping, base layer development, strategic planning, and web mapping applications.

The conference brings together representatives from businesses, government agencies, academics and state users.

For more information, visit the conference web site at