College interns help construct city map.

The City of Shawnee is building a Geographic Information System (GIS), a smart, interactive map of the city. This summer, college interns helped create the system that will revolutionize how city employees function.


A fragment of the sprawling project entails placing meters, fire hydrants and manholes onto the Global Positioning System, commonly known as GPS. GIS Manager Tom Miller said the East Central University students provided instrumental fieldwork for data collection.


“When they came in, I had done about a little less than 4,000 meters,” he said. “In two months, they’ve been able to get us to about 9,500 meters.”


The internship paralleled ECU senior Darilynn Jalufka’s goals, though a career in cartography had not always been her plan.


“I joined the army out of high school in 1999 and traveled all over the world,” she said. “After I got out of the Army, I started a construction company with my dad.”


Jalufka then decided to enroll in school. She was a Native American Studies major until attending an earth science class, where a professor told her about the cartography program.


“I’ve always used maps, even when I was in the military,” she said of transitioning to the cartography, geotechniques concentration, major.


Aiming to work for a municipality or energy company in the future, Jalufka explained the city internship was a great resource for experience. During her internship, she enjoyed interacting with the community and educating residents on the new system.


“We went out to read meters, and a lot of the homeowners would come outside,” she said.


Miller acknowledged the community’s curiosity.


“We tried to be ambassadors for the city and let them know what’s going on,” he said.


The GIS will go beyond city usage. Utility Director Steve Nelms outlined community benefits, stating a person in search of a new home could determine a home’s proximity to a fire hydrant, and a driver could check road conditions and verify speed limits.


“Anything you can think of, we can put in there,” he explained.


With parts of the project set for release as soon as December, according to Nelms, Miller said the city would like to utilize more interns for related field and office work.


Joining Jalufka this summer was fellow ECU student David Traxler. Miller said the duo saw some interesting things, including a lot of snakes, and gained actual experience.


“They seemed to enjoy it,” he said.