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GIS - Geographic Information System


GIS Technology Brief

Geographic Information System (GIS) is an organized collection of computerized hardware, software, geographic data, and personnel to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze, and display all forms of geographically referenced information. It incorporates the essential elements of computer cartography and relational databases into one system. The most important characteristic of this system is that every mapped feature is linked to a record in a tabular database and may be related to records in other databases as well. In other words, the GIS fully integrate geographic and tabular data.

This linkage between maps and tabular data makes analysis of geographic data possible. Computer cartography allows representation, but not analysis of geographic data. Relational database managers do not contain geographic information. Integrating the two technologies in a GIS creates "intelligent maps" and the ability to perform spatial analysis. Such analysis may include spatial queries (such as "where is?") and spatial measurements (such as "how far?"), or more complex problems such as best routing, spatial correlation, districting, agricultural analysis and predictions, etc.

GIS data are organized in layers. Each layer contains only one kind of information about the area in question. For instance, one layer might be a soils map with the associated database containing information about a large number of soil variables (Texture, PH, Permeability, etc.). Another layer may be a map of roads associated with a database containing road names, road class, number of lanes, pavement materials, date last paved, etc. All of the layers within a given project would represent the same geographic area. These layers can be overlaid with one another to allow the analysis of relationships between the different layers.

This kind of analysis is possible because the GIS is geographically referenced; i.e., it is in a real-world coordinate system (Latitude, Longitude, UTM, State Plane), allowing accurate overlay of layers containing different data themes for the same geographic area. For instance, a highway project corridor could be overlaid with a soils map, even if they came from sources at two different scales.

GIS Functions

Several analytical functions are supported by the integration of geographic and tabular data. The most simple of these is database query. The GIS automates searches for user-specified subsets of the database. GIS is unique in that it allows searches in two different ways. A query may be addressed directly to the tabular data, and then displayed on the map (e.g. "select all local councils with populations over one million and color them yellow"). Alternatively, it may be addressed to the map, with the results displayed in tabular form (e.g. "show me the yam crop yield for the councils I have selected").

GIS also supports spatial analysis, including automatic computation of lengths and areas, recognition of adjacency, and finding spatial correlations. Spatial analysis can answer questions such as: How many acres of organic soil are within a given corridor? What land uses are within 500 meters of the corridor? What kinds of natural features are adjacent to prehistoric hunting camps? On what kind of soil are you likely to find pineapple growing? What environmental variables are most often correlated with the presence of an archeological site?

The most sophisticated kind of analysis that can be performed by the GIS is modeling. Modeling has three properties:

First, it involves the analysis of complex factors. For instance, modeling fire behavior would involve analyzing forest type and density, amount of dead fuel, slope, current soil moisture, wind speed and direction, and a host of other independent variables.

Second, successful modeling requires that the relationship between factors are understood and clearly defined. The relationship may be expressed with mathematical or Boolean operators. For example, Darcy's law is a mathematical expression of the relationship between the rate of water flow within an aquifer and the permeability and slope of the aquifer.

Finally, modeling is predictive. By understanding the relationships between a complex factor and the dependent variable, one can predict the value of the dependent variable in different places or circumstances. Thus modeling answers such questions as: Where is there a high probability of finding an archeological site? How long will it take a contaminant from Well A to reach Well B? What forest stands are most likely to burn in this fire season?

GIS Technical Courses from Agile!

1. Enterprise Data Integration - Learn how to integrate and work with geographical data from all over your organization.

2. Data Analysis - See the big picture. Learn how to work with your data geographically. See patterns you could not see before. Reveal hidden trends and distributions. Gain new insight. Learn techniques, which can give you the capability to work with data in new ways and be creative and original.

3. Geographic Data Management - Learn the technique of managing geographic and spatial data.

4. Modeling Techniques - Learn preventive and predictive modeling techniques, which can be used to solve real-world problems. Learn the technique of understanding relationships and forces that drive your products, so you can make better decisions and empower yourself to solve problems faster.

5. Spatial Analysis - Learn the technique of analyzing your data in space and time.

6. Display & Presentation of Geographic Data - Learn how to present your results and ideas. Learn how to make professional publication-quality maps and create interactive displays by linking charts, tables, drawings, photographs, etc. Learn how to present geographical information to inform and motivate others.

7. Map Creation & Editing - Learn the technique of mapping new geographic information and editing existing ones.

8. Developing Map-Based Applications - Learn how to use built-in object-oriented scripting language to develop custom tools, interfaces and complete map-based applications. Develop the capability to give others the power to work geographically without the associated high GIS investment.

9. Geo-processing Capability - Learn to utilize the inherent geo-processing capabilities to quickly produce results.

Components of Agile GIS System

1. HP DesignJet 750c w/ stand 240Volts (Manufacturer Part # C4709#ABA).

2. Calcomp Digitizer, Drawingboard 18x24 Corded Cursor/16BTN/.002 Accuracy Opaque (Manufacturer Part # 342402121111)

3. Erdas Mapsheets 1.2a Fullboxed version.

4. PC Arc/Info Version 4.0 for Windows.

5. ArcView Version 3.2a for Windows.

6. Adobe Photoshop Version 5 for Windows.

7. Accessories - Printer Cartridges BCYM, Printing Paper, Photo Paper, etc.


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