A Carmel city councilwoman put out a call for help, and CSU Monterey Bay faculty, staff and students responded.

For their work in mapping the city’s trails using geographic information systems, the team was honored at a City Council meeting in early July.

Map of CarmelThe project came about when Councilwoman Victoria Beach wanted to have an alternative transportation mapping project done. She contacted Megan Tolbert, CSUMB’s transportation planner. Tolbert knew that GIS technology was needed, and approached Professor Yong Lao to see if his students would take on the project.

Dr. Lao was eager for the opportunity, and students in his GIS for social science and business applications class took on the project last spring.

“The students ramped up their GIS know-how and worked to coordinate with Victoria and her team of 20-plus agencies,” Tolbert said.

The students had an immense task of pulling big data files together from the various agencies, organizing the data, researching best practices for the map they were trying to create, and communicating feasibility and options. The final product was a map of Carmel’s bike and pedestrian routes.

The map will help decision makers see gaps in the system, allowing them to allocate resources in a way that closes those gaps. For example, it could help determine where sidewalks need to be provided.

Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett and CSUMB President Eduardo OchoaThe map will also help the city promote eco-tourism. It needed to know if visitors who found their way to Carmel would be able to get around the city without a car.

“It’s a base map,” Tolbert said. “It’s a starting point, and the hardest part of the project.”

Four students worked on the project – Cooper Mitchell, Jacqueline Estrada, Samra Asrat and Michael LePage, who is a member of the Carmel Planning Commission.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to connect Carmel and their collaborating organizations with valuable GIS skills,” Tolbert said. “It’s a need for agencies, but many times unfunded.”

Learn about GIS classes at CSUMB

Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett presents CSUMB President Eduardo Ochoa a proclamation thanking the university for its help with a city project