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ODU’s McLeod, Lombard Receive Data Integration Award at International Conference

george mcleod

A poster based on the Reality Check event hosted at Old Dominion University in May was recognized with an award at an international conference last month, which was attended by more 15,000 experts from the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) field.

The poster, "Reality Check Hampton Roads," won second place for Best Data Integration at the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego. It was produced by George McLeod, GIS systems engineer and adjunct instructor of geography at ODU; John Lombard, associate professor and executive director of the E.V. Williams Center for Real Estate and Economic Development (CREED) at ODU; and Sara Kidd, senior regional planner with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.

The poster was based on the groundbreaking Reality Check Hampton Roads event, held at ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center this spring.

"Having our presentation recognized among a field of nearly 1,000 submissions has been a true honor for us. This award is a testament to both the skills of my colleagues and to the compelling nature of the Reality Check Hampton Roads event," McLeod said.

During Reality Check Hampton Roads, 300 representatives of various interest groups - from developers, to environmentalists, to academics - gathered around tables and "planned" the next 25 years of growth for the region. Sponsored by CREED, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and Urban Land Institute, Reality Check was a real-time simulation where stakeholders had to work together to find a shared solution to manage growth for the region.

In groups of 10, the participants added another 350,000 residents to the region (the projected growth in Hampton Roads by 2035) by placing Lego blocks on a map. The real-time aspect of the event forced participants to quickly reach a consensus on how and where to permit development, keeping in mind the need to avoid protected areas like wetlands, and to keep infrastructure development in pace with population growth.

Reality Check was a stark reminder to participants about the challenges Hampton Roads faces with the projected influx of population into a region where population density already taxes the existing infrastructure.

For the ESRI conference, McLeod, Lombard and Kidd produced a 5-foot-by-5-foot Reality Check map, along with a poster explaining the technical process of developing it from the event in May, and methodology for analyzing the results of the game.

GIS professionals from 131 countries attended the ESRI User Conference, the largest such gathering of its kind in the world.