By Ahliyah S. Chambers, Contributing Writer
Location impacts the quality of life for many Black Americans. How often have we had to consider where we live to depend on the quality of resources that are available to us? Schools, health care, and grocery stores, to name a few, are all impacted by location; and race is deeply embedded there as well. Individuals have taken it upon themselves to understand how and why areas such as San Diego have been divided.
Tuesday, July 12, Black professionals gathered at Chef’s SD in the heart of the Downtown Gaslamp District to reflect on lessons learned in the local tech industry and how the “GIS” tech field can impact diverse communities. Black Tech Link partnered with two organizations committed to Black tech professionals, Blacks at Esri and Northstar GIS, to host a special networking event connecting Black GIS professionals worldwide.
The event took place during one of the largest tech conferences in San Diego, the Esri User Conference, an annual international tech conference held July 11 through July 15. San Diego’s Black tech professionals clearly made their presence known.
“GIS technologies can be used as a storytelling tool that makes a difference and gives a lot of underserved communities hope. We need representation in stakeholders and those designing these tech products so we can accurately tell the story of what is happening in our communities. If there is a lack of representation within tech products, it is bound to have negative impacts, ” said one GIS professional.
Black Tech Link, a California based organization, equips Black populations with economic resources and networking activities to advance their careers and businesses in STEM. “GIS” was in discussion with conference goers all week long. GIS stands for “Geographic Information Systems”, a tech career path many don’t know about, but should. It is a computer system for capturing, storing, displaying and analyzing geographically referenced data.
GIS professionals, urban planners, civil engineers, data analysts, content creators, and educators came together last week to meet other professionals and learn about career opportunities locally in Southern California. Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from successful Black GIS professionals in a 15-minute Fireside Chat. They shared advice on how to enter into the Tech industry, including GIS, as a career path.