SANTA CLARITA – When fire burned through the area two years ago, firefighters battled flames after reading digital maps of the area made with technology known as geographic information systems. These maps offered firefighters layers of information, from typography to the types of trees in the ground to how many homes were fanned out across the land. Now a class teaching this map-making process that analyzes and organizes geographic information is available at College of the Canyons, starting with the spring semester Feb. 6. Community college officials hope the four-credit class piques students’ interests and want to offer a certificate program with the up-and-coming subject. Whether it’s war, tsunami or Hurricane Katrina, geography is coming to the masses as people become more aware of the global issues surrounding them, said Jeff Hemphill, a University of California, Santa Barbara, geography instructor who will teach the College of the Canyons class. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “Our sense of place is changing virtually by our knowledge of our place in the world,” he said. “There are all kinds of global issues that are making people aware. Underneath all that is GIS.” Those in health, government and law enforcement fields have been using these maps for years, but now the technology has become more mainstream as search engines offer maps linking people with everyday things, such as how to find the cheapest gas in the area and satellite images of their neighborhoods. Even some car manufacturers and cellular phone companies use the technology to visually track users if they need help on roads. “For any question you have, you can get different types of digital data and combine it to make a map. From that map you can see the big picture,” said Mary DeLaTorre, College of the Canyons’ acting geography department chairwoman. Introduction to Geographic Information Systems is part lecture and part lab. Students will have exercises introducing them to the software. They’ll also learn how to gather information to make maps and work on special projects. Sue Doyle,(661) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!