Columbia celebrates geography awareness week

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COLUMBIA — Geography may seem like a subject only for school-age children but it impacts everyone on a daily basis. The city of Columbia is celebrating Geography Awareness Week. 

The manager of the Geospatial Information Services department, Matt Gerike, said where things are and how people travel to different places are all parts of geography. Knowing every detail that takes place within the city is important, he said.

"We have to take care of roads, we have to take care of sidewalks and even the placement of trees. All of these are features that are part of our geography," Gerike said.

The theme for this years' Geography Awareness Week is, "explore the power of parks". 

The theme celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service. For Columbia, the local parks will be put in the spotlight through social media. 

"This week, through Facebook and Facebook posts, we are going to draw attention to different aspects of our parks that we use with our computer mapping technology and tie it to geography," Gerike said.

Another part of Geography Awareness Week is educating the public on the Community Dashboard, he said.

"The Community Dashboard lets the public know, on a map, what's going on in their area and around Columbia," he said. 

He said the Community Dashboard is also used to notify the public when the city is planning projects, like a new sidewalk, or adding a new subdivision or annexing property that may lead to new roads and sidewalks and houses.

Gerike and the Geospatial Information Services department have partnered with the city's Department of Sustainability to figure out which apartment complexes in Columbia use the most energy. 

City Sustainability Manager Barbara Buffaloe said, "Any renter can go onto the city of Columbia's website and see utility bills for the last three years, monthly bills, on a place they're renting or a place they're interested."

Buffaloe said the city wants to inform the community, so people are able to make smart decisions when it comes to figuring out where to live. 

Geography Awareness Weeks lasts through Nov. 19.