Training conducted on essential steps to becoming a GIS professional in Central Asia

May 13, 2024

A geographic information system (GIS) is a universal tool that is used across a wide range of disciplines. Urban planners, environmental scientistics, astronomers, crime and law enforcement professionals, epidemiologists, political consultants, and game designers all rely on it. On May 6 and 7, GeoHub, a joint initiative of Central European University (CEU), the American University of Central Asia (AUCA), and Bard College, presented a series of workshops at AUCA in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on the use of geospatial technologies. The event called “Mapping for Policy Change: A Beginner's Guide to ArcGIS” was led by Pavel Kiparisov, PhD candidate at CEU in Vienna. The staff and students of the AUCA learned key geospatial concepts, became familiar with the popular GIS software, and learned how to tell stories that change policies and make a difference using the power of GIS.

In Pavel’s own words,

“We all use GIS, even if we don’t realize it. When you explain a friend how to get to your place, you get to dig out a mental map of the optimal path that your brain has earlier created. When giving spatial instructions, you don't describe every building, every general store along the way, or the type of road pavement unless it's key information; you omit unnecessary details, so your friend can get from point A to point B with ease. This is the same approach we take in GIS and why we start our training with pen and paper – we show that anyone can do geospatial analysis.”

Participants were introduced to the most important geospatial tools and were immersed in hands-on exercises involving the mapping of areas in Central Asia and East Africa. “I now feel comfortable with the basics and confident that I can look for advanced features and elegant solutions along my journey towards a GIS connaisseur”, says one of the attendees DariaAUCA student. In the words of Kamilya, AUCA professor, “The course helped me to refresh my knowledge about GIS. Practical work with ArcMap was very useful. I also learned many new functions. It will be nice to continue the workshop.”

According to Viktor Lagutov, who heads the initiative at CEU,

“GeoHub will continue to offer students and researchers in partner institutions geospatial courses, training workshops, internships, and professional certificate programs. In addition, every summer we organize a series of workshops on geospatial technology that are open to everyone. This year's workshop on Geospatial Technologies for Monitoring SDGs has a particular focus on Early Warning Systems and is organized in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and AUCA. Our programs always emphasize practical, real-world challenges and potential solutions in academic research and public service.