ASU group wins Geospatial Excellence Catalyst Award

Redesigned data repository makes critical Arizona geographic information more accessible for state, local organizations

October 19, 2020

Arizona State University's Geospatial Research Solutions, a professional services group housed within the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, was awarded the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) Geospatial Excellence Catalyst Award for its project, “AZGeo Geospatial Data Hub.” 

Built in partnership with the Arizona State Land Department, the AZGeo Hub is a statewide open data repository that enables agencies across the entire state of Arizona to share and consolidate important data for public and private decision-making like never before. ASU’s Geospatial Research Solutions partnered with the Arizona State Land Department to rebuild a statewide open geospatial data repository. Download Full Image

Launched in July of this year, the repository enables easy access to critical digital spatial data — city boundaries, parcels, rivers, land ownership, streets, etc. — that can be utilized by cities, counties, state and tribal groups, private companies and the public to support the needs of Arizona citizens. 

“Creating geographic information system data is a long and complex process, but the great news is that the data that most people need already exist,” said Shea Lemar, geographic information system senior project manager with Geospatial Research and Solutions, and lead of the project. “Unfortunately, there is a lot of inaccurate and incomplete data out there, and a person can spend hours searching the internet for data only to come up with useless results.” 

Enter the AZGeo Hub, which now serves as the authoritative data source for geographic information system (GIS) data related to the state of Arizona and can be accessed for free. 

“Having a single data repository for people to find the authoritative data that helps them do their jobs has already saved hundreds of thousands of hours for GIS professionals throughout the state,” Lemar added. “Those time savings are passed on as cost savings to the people of Arizona.”

Supporting the needs of the Arizona communities

Beyond housing data and alleviating accessibility issues, AZGeo Hub also allows GIS professionals across the state to quickly and easily integrate applications in a shared site and collaborate on projects.

“Different cities, counties and state agencies have come together to share data and applications via AZGeo,” Lemar said. “People are able to create groups on AZGeo where they can share data with a particular set of other people.”  

Currently, the AZGeo Hub has more than two dozen groups that are used by geospatial professionals to coordinate their work. Many of those groups create applications and tools for people throughout the state to use.  

One of these applications, a collaboration between ASU, the Arizona State Land Department and the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, allows streamlined access to comprehensive COVID-19-related data to help support the COVID-19 response.

Another tool, created by the Department of Transportation for public safety professionals, enables the ability to update and share data used in the Arizona 911 system.

“We are very excited to have won the NSGIC Geospatial Excellence Award,” Lemar said. “NSGIC is comprised of some of the top GIS professionals from across states, and the fact that they think that AZGeo deserves the Geospatial Excellence Award is quite an honor.

“We get the most pleasure from seeing the ways in which AZGeo is used throughout the state to help support the needs of Arizona, but getting an award like this is definitely a nice bonus.”

The AZGeo Data Hub is an initiative of the Arizona Geographic Information Council.

David Rozul

Communications Specialist, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning


ASU partners with UN, World Bank on gender equality training for world leaders

October 19, 2020

Only eight countries have legislated full gender equality, according to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law database. (No, the United States isn’t one of them.) And an estimated one in three women worldwide experience physical violence.

To accelerate the adoption of policies that empower women and ensure equal rights, Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory and EdPlus partnered with global organizations — including the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the United Nations and the World Bank — on a unique video training series: SDG 5 Training for Parliamentarians and Global Changemakers. graphic that says "zero countries have achieved full gender equality. Let's change that." Download Full Image

This series will inform members of parliaments and other leaders on gender issues and trends, providing actionable steps they can take to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (UN Sustainable Development Goal 5) in their countries.

In 2015, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all 193 United Nations member states. SDG 5 is an especially important goal because “gender equality is intrinsically linked to all our development challenges,” according to Sanda Ojiambo, executive director of the United Nations Global Compact.

Head of EdPlus Social Impact, Erin Carr-Jordan, worked with ASU students at Luminosity Lab to build an interactive prototype tool that allows users the ability to compare country-level data and utilize a notification system that aligns with the UN’s Universal Periodic Review. This tool will “amplify impact and proactively encourage our partners all over the world to make positive change to discriminatory laws in advance of their public review at the UN Human Rights Council," Carr-Jordan says.

The SDG 5 training was developed during the beginning of the United Nations Decade of Action. 2020 is a landmark year to commemorate commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. To take stock, it has been:

  • 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action and the Millennium Declaration.
  • 20 years since the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
  • 10 years since the creation of UN Women and the launch of the Women’s Empowerment Principles.

"The Global Futures Laboratory is thrilled to partner with so many wonderful organizations in a collaborative SDG 17 multi-stakeholder initiative to promote SDG 5,” said Amanda Ellis, director of global partnerships for the Global Futures Laboratory and co-chair (with Thunderbird Dean Sanjeev Khagram) of the universitywide UN SDG and Beyond Task Force.

Ellis was previously New Zealand’s ambassador to the UN and lead gender specialist for the World Bank. Other partners on this training series include the Council of Women World Leaders, Women Political Leaders and the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians.

This SDG training for world leaders won’t be ASU’s last.

“Based on the quality of ASU’s work with the SDG 5 training, the Inter-Parliamentary Union has asked us to create a new training series for SDG 13: climate action, which will be key in the run up to COP 26,” Ellis said. “It’s wonderful to be able to align key global partnerships with the brilliant work going on at ASU.”

View the training videos below and learn how to take action on the SDG 5 Training for Parliamentarians and Global Changemakers site.


Only eight countries have legislated full gender equality. Time for change to benefit not only women and girls, but also everyone, everywhere.


Did you know that companies with more gender representation perform better? Yet there is still a gender gap in leadership positions in corporations. Similarly, gender representation in the government correlates with stronger governance, but the majority of the global population is still uncomfortable with a female head of state. 

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