As director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University, Talbot Brooks is a man in demand, logging thousands of miles annually, supporting the adoption and implementation of geospatial information technologies.
A recent trip to the Middle East, however, ranks as one of his most satisfying.
Brooks recently traveled to Kuwait at the request of the Kuwaiti Geographic Society and the government of Kuwait to keynote a conference. His keynote presentation was televised nationally on Kuwaiti public television.
“My visit to Kuwait was among the most enjoyable trips I’ve had thus far in my career,” said Brooks. “It’s easy to see an Arab in traditional dress and make the assumption that they are perhaps not the most sophisticated users of technology. That would be a grave mistake as we have much to learn about the many cutting edge ways they are already using it to grow their economy and improve the lifestyles of all citizens.”
One of the principal challenges faced by governments at all levels and locals is the prevention of duplication of effort and promoting coordination among departments and offices, said Brooks. This saves taxpayers’ money as it promotes a “buy it once, use it many times” philosophy.
“By way of example, a department of transportation, a department of interior and a department of environmental quality might all need aerial photography, Brooks said. “Rather than each purchasing this type of data independently for millions of dollars each, a coordinated effort would allow them to buy it once and split the cost three ways.”
The United States recognized this need early on and created the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) to coordinate such efforts at the federal level. These efforts are mirrored at the state level through the Mississippi Coordinating Council for Remote Sensing and GIS (MCCRSGIS). In each case, the lead executives from each governmental department meet on a regular basis to discuss geospatial needs and build collaborative efforts to meet mutual needs while saving taxpayer dollars.
Brooks serves as the chair of the Technical User’s Group for MCCRSGIS and is part of the advisory body for the FGDC. This experience, among many, has helped him gain a global reputation as an expert in spatial technologies and their implementation within government.
Brooks’ geospatial information career and his rise to director of DSU’s Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies is an interesting story. Earning an undergraduate degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, he conducted his graduate studies at Arizona State University. He began his career in 1986 as a firefighter Massachusetts and he has since held numerous paid and volunteer positions within the emergency response domain.
He was introduced to spatial technologies while researching the effects of global climate change on agronomic crops for the U.S. Water Conservation Research Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona in 1993. He joined the faculty at Arizona State University’s Department of Geography in 2000 before coming to Mississippi in 2005. He is the current president of Geospatial Information Technology Association and provides volunteer geospatial information services for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Service activities include the National Geospatial Advisory Committee, the Mississippi Coordinating Council for Remote Sensing and GIS (Technical User’s Group Chair) and the board of directors for the GIS Certification Institute.
The mission of the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies is to provide geospatial services, accessible education and training and institutional knowledge for geospatial information technologies. The center provides degrees in geospatial technologies, for-credit courses and professional training.
Brooks plans to return to Kuwait in January and hopes to bring a few select students with him in an effort to start an exchange program and to attract Kuwaiti students to Delta State.
“The potential investment in research and development programs centered on the use of spatial technologies within the oil and gas industry would complement emerging needs here in Mississippi as new wells are drilled in the southwestern and northeastern parts of the state,” he added.