News | October 31, 2008

ESRI Honors GIS Innovators In Health And Human Service

Individuals and organizations that promote the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology in health and human services recently received recognition from ESRI, the world leader in GIS technology, for their contributions. Receiving awards were the Alabama Department of Children's Affairs (ADCA); Pat Libbey, executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO); Bruce Ripley, Planning Systems Support Group, Veterans Health Administration (VHA); and the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, Canada.

The awards were announced during the 2008 ESRI Health GIS Conference held in Washington, D.C., September 28-October 1. "These exemplary people and organizations set the bar and inspire all of us to do better in our daily work," said Bill Davenhall, global manager for health and human services, ESRI. ADCA received the Vision Award, which was accepted by Chris McInnish, deputy commissioner of the ADCA, and Tammy Coates, executive assistant to the commissioner. ADCA demonstrated foresight in the implementation of GIS to enhance communication, collaboration, and data sharing through development of its Alabama Resource Management System. The system uses GIS to integrate data from more than 20 health and human service agencies and make it available over the Web. As a result, it connects decision makers in agencies, programs, and communities with the information they need to evaluate community needs and plan and implement solutions that improve the lives of children in the state.

The Service Award recognizes individuals who do an outstanding job of advocating GIS technology and helping others understand its value and purpose in their everyday work. In his role as NACCHO executive director, Pat Libbey has provided leadership for more than 3,000 local health departments across the United States. "To move a community like that forward takes strong and dedicated leadership," said Davenhall when he presented the award.

"In tracking, mapping, and identifying the social determinants of health, I think we all recognize that the practice of public health has as its core the spatial distribution of elements that contribute to our health as well as take away from it," commented Libbey. "Thank you, ESRI, for the support that you give to improving public health in this country and throughout the world."

ESRI presented the Making a Difference Award posthumously to Bruce Ripley, who was a strong advocate of the use of GIS technology in the VHA hospital system for more than 15 years. An early adopter of health GIS in the federal government, Ripley was willing to take an organizational risk to implement spatial analysis technology at the VHA. Duane Flemming, VHA director, accepted the honor on Ripley's behalf.

The Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, Canada, received the Communication Award for excellence in map presentation, visualization, and communication. The Centre uses GIS in the support of economic growth strategies for its community. Tom Vair, executive director, and his staff accepted the award. For more information on GIS in health and human services and the 2008 ESRI Health GIS Conference, visit

About ESRI
Since 1969, ESRI has been giving customers around the world the power to think and plan geographically. The market leader in GIS, ESRI software is used in more than 300,000 organizations worldwide including each of the 200 largest cities in the United States, most national governments, more than two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. ESRI applications, running on more than one million desktops and thousands of Web and enterprise servers, provide the backbone for the world's mapping and spatial analysis. ESRI is the only vendor that provides complete technical solutions for desktop, mobile, server, and Internet platforms. Visit us at