Tag Archives: ArcGIS
With special thanks to Jamie Chesser, e-Learning Designer and Developer at The Nature Conservancy for this guest blog.
As I write this, I am reminded that today is the first day of Autumn or the Autumnal Equinox. How truly fast summer came and went! With the kids back to school and summer vacations over, you should have more time now right? Maybe a little more time to learn something new? Check out www.conservationtraining.org. Have you visited before? If not, you should!
ConservationTraining is worth reviewing. Our site provides a plethora of conservation knowledge, from experts around the world to our learner community. All courses are free and available anytime from anywhere, as our mission is to share training with our conservation colleagues across the world. Some courses are even offered in multiple languages.
Numbers can be kind of boring; however, we are really excited about these numbers. ConservationTraining currently has 30,000+ users representing 200 countries. Since 2009, The Nature Conservancy along with several amazing partner organizations, like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the IUCN, have created 400+ hours of content in more than 15 curriculums.
Our courses touch on a variety of science and technology including GIS, Climate Change – REDD+, and Protected Areas (and more). The Fundamentals of GIS for Conservation course uses ArcGIS and interesting and relevant data examples to paint a beautiful picture of how pertinent GIS is to the field of conservation. The curriculum, originally developed by The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the World Wildlife Fund, is comprised of six (6) courses that focus on the foundational concepts of GIS. The course has several learning components including podcasts, web-based, self-paced trainings, demonstrations, and more to help students gain knowledge on foundational GIS topics. Technology does change, we do our best to stay current with the technology. Our team is currently working on an update for this course – more details will be forthcoming.
Why not give it a look? You really won’t be sorry. Oh, and please know for the caretakers of ConservationTraining, this is just the beginning; there is much more work to be done. Happy learning!
Question or comments, we are happy to chat! Contact Jamie Chesser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In response to inquiries that educators and others have had recently, I created several videos explaining how to georeference a map and serve it in ArcGIS Online, beginning here and continuing here and here. Georeferencing is the process of aligning spatial data in map form has no spatial information explicitly attached to it, usually because it has been scanned from film, paper, or another medium, and attaching spatial information to it. By “spatial information” we mean a real-world map projection and coordinate system. The process of georeferencing is powerful because it allows you to add historical or other documents to your GIS project, so that you can work with them just like you can with your other GIS maps and data. You match your scanned aerial photo, map, or other document by creating a series of control points, which I explain here. I did this using ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap); soon you will be able to do this in ArcGIS Pro, and, I hope, someday in ArcGIS Online.
Georeferencing has been around for as long as GIS has existed–since the 1960s. But more recently, with the advent of cloud based GIS platforms such as ArcGIS Online, you can now serve your newly georeferenced data to the cloud, as I demonstrate in the third video in the series. Serving it in ArcGIS Online enables you to use it anywhere, on any device, at any time. Then, if you share your data in ArcGIS Online, others can use it as well in their own maps and projects.
Let’s say you have georeferenced and uploaded a historical map, as I do in these videos with one of the wonderful historical Sanborn fire insurance maps, and now have published it to ArcGIS Online. Now you want to create a Swipe story map web mapping application so that you can compare how a city changed over time. I explain how to to do that in this video. As with any GIS-based project, being organized about your work is crucial, and in this video I demonstrate how to effectively use folders in ArcGIS Online to support your organized work.
I hope these resources will be valuable to the community and I look forward to hearing your comments and how you have used georeferencing in your own work.
As we have frequently noted in this blog, GIS is rapidly becoming a key tool for research and instruction in an increasing variety of disciplines. These include business, mathematics, health, and sociology, just to name just a few. Equally encouraging is that in disciplines where GIS has long been used, such as geography, environmental science, urban planning, and wildlife biology, GIS is now being used in deeper and more meaningful ways. One of these disciplines–archaeology–is featured in a new book from Texas A&M University Press entitled The Archaeology of Engagement: Conflict and Revolution in the United States, edited by Dr. Dana L. Pertermann who teaches at Western Wyoming College, and Dr. Holly Kathryn Norton, who is the State Archaeologist for Colorado. Conflicts in the book include the 1836 San Jacinto battle in Texas, Robert E. Lee’s mid-1850s campaign along the Concho River, the battles of the River Raisin during the War of 1812, and others.
The book focuses somewhat on the physical artifacts that archaeologists uncover, but even more so on the human side–the people involved in conflicts and their social mores and understanding of power. It is a significant step forward as I believe it represents a weaving of cultural geography and spatial thinking into archaeology.
Readers of this blog will find Chapter 7 particularly interesting: This chapter, Georeferencing Maps and Aerial Photos for the San Jacinto Battlefield Analysis, by Peter E. Price and Douglas G. Mangum, goes into great detail, but in understandable language, about how to bring geospatial data and analysis to archaeological studies. While the chapter is focused on how to bring historical aerial photographs and maps for the San Jacinto battle near Houston Texas, the methodology they describe will be helpful for others preparing data sets for their own instruction and research. Educators can use this and other San Jacinto chapters in conjunction with the story maps gallery of historical maps, which include Civil War and other historical battles.
Thanks to my colleagues at Esri Press, I had the opportunity to review the upcoming book Getting To Know ArcGIS Pro. The book, published in March 2016, was written by Michael Law and Amy Collins, and an accompanying site includes trial software and all the data you need for the exercises. I believe it is a valuable resource for beginning and advanced GIS professionals, instructors, students, and anyone who wants to learn about this important and forward-thinking component of the ArcGIS platform.
There is a reason for the success that the “Getting To Know” series from Esri Press has had all these years, including the Getting to Know ArcGIS series and the GIS Tutorial series: Working through the exercises in these books, I believe, is the fastest way to be successful with Esri ArcGIS Pro technology. Last year, my colleague Dr Pinde Fu wrote Getting to Know WebGIS, which has already become a trusted resource for teaching and learning about web and mobile maps and apps. In this tradition, Getting to Know ArcGIS Pro helps new and existing GIS users solve problems in a variety of fields and scales, but it also helps them understand why to use specific tools, and to be able to select the most appropriate tools and parameters for specific tasks. These tools are not taught in a vacuum or in rote fashion from one function to another, but are taught as a connected and logical series of workflows that emulate what is done in today’s workplaces.
Moreover, this book helps people understand GIS as a platform and a system of engagement, as it is increasingly called nowadays. In my travels to higher education institutions over the past two years, faculty and students have been asking me about resources that will help them to use ArcGIS Pro. They know that Pro represents the “next generation” in desktop-and-web integrated GIS technology. This book, along with Tripp Corbin’s Learning ArcGIS Pro book that I reviewed recently, and web and instructor-led webinars and courses from Esri are excellent resources to get started.
The book is organized into 10 chapters, building from basic terminology and functionality to calculating statistics, extracting data, creating and modifying features, geocoding, analyzing spatial and temporal patterns, and creating 3D scenes. I was pleased to see that the book contains major sections devoted to crowdsourcing, or citizen science, including field data collection, as well as presenting a project with appropriate symbology and sharing that project online. An index by task, sidebars, and helpful font and color choices are thoughtful touches for the busy person working through this book.
As an educator, I found the exercises to be interesting and engaging, ranging from analyzing recent earthquakes around the world, conflicts in Sudan, health data in Illinois, social services in Los Angeles, crime in a metropolitan area, to site suitability for a vineyard in California, and much more.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts below to how you are using this book and ArcGIS Pro in your workplace.
In my last post, I discussed how to easily create compelling Cartograms in ArcGIS. I would now like to point out one of the best things about the tool: You are not confined to creating cartograms of variables by countries of the world. Think outside the box! You can create cartograms for any set of polygons that you choose! A set of provinces or states, neighborhoods in your community, or even watersheds are all good candidates.
Let’s take population from 1900 to 2000 for a state, such as the great state of Kansas. You and your students can certainly create standard choropleth maps showing the population each census year and even a animation to help visualize the changes. But creating cartograms of the population in each county provides additional insight. See the output from selected years, below. The cartograms show the settlement of the high plains (western Kansas) from 1900 to 1930, followed by population loss that continues in some counties all the way to 2010. Coupled with that is the rise of the urban centers of Wichita (south central Kansas) and Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City (northeast Kansas). The combination of these trends, brought about by social, physical, and economic forces, squeeze some of the northern and western counties so much that they are almost invisible by 2010. I’ve been to many of these counties, though, and rest assured that there are some vibrant communities and good people there!
Think about doing this for your own area–population change in your own state over time, water quality or river flow differences by watershed, or crime rates or median age by neighborhood in your own community. If you do this, I think it is advantageous if the readers of your cartograms know what the areas that you are analyzing look like as a standard map for comparison purposes. Thus, you might consider providing this standard map at the front of your set of cartograms, as I do below. That way, your audience will more readily understand how the variables you are mapping distort the “standard” way of looking at that area.
The possibilities for increased spatial literacy and understanding with cartograms and ArcGIS are endless.
Cartograms, because they distort our expected view of mapped variables, are wonderfully rich tools for teaching and research. They allow us to see relationships and trends that may not be evident in a typical choropleth map. A distance cartogram shows relative travel times and directions within a network. More common is an area cartogram, a map in which some variable is used instead of the land area in each polygon to determine the size of that polygon. I remember using graph paper to make rectangular area cartograms as an undergraduate (though I realize I am dating myself). Today, one can use Web GIS and desktop GIS to create cartograms. For example, nearly 700 variables can be mapped on www.worldmapper.org, and the data can be downloaded as Excel spreadsheets and analyzed within ArcGIS.
Let’s say you wanted to dig deeper and make your own cartograms, with the ability to do further analysis within a GIS environment. You can use the cartogram geoprocessing tool that my colleague Tom Gross at Esri created. How can a GIS, which focuses on accurate spatial representations of features, be used to create cartograms? Download the tool and find out! The tool also includes step-by-step instructions and a sample set of data.
Once you install the cartogram tool, you simply run it to create the cartograms. An intuitive interface allows specifying input and output. You can even distort your base layers (such as the imagery shown below) so that your cartogram can include these as reference layers. I did this for cities, a 30-degree world grid, and a satellite image of the Earth to see these reference layers overlaid on my cartogram.
In this example, I chose to map the 2015 population by country. Then, I mapped the total CO2 emissions by country in 2004, in millions of metric tons, from the US Energy Information Agency. What patterns do you notice?
The cartogram map layer has to be written into a geodatabase, but otherwise, the tool has few restrictions. I am very pleased cartographically with the results, and the methodology of how these cartograms are generated is well documented: These are Density-Equalizing Cartograms using methodology developed by Mark Newman and Michael Gastner at the University of Michigan.
What other variables and at what other scales could you map and analyze as cartograms?
A new book from Tripp Corbin entitled Learning ArcGIS Pro focuses on Esri’s newest desktop application for visualizing, maintaining, and analyzing data. A GIS professional with a great passion for learning, Tripp makes learning this new application straightforward and compelling. Tripp is the CEO and a cofounder of eGIS Associates, Inc., and has over 20 years of surveying, mapping, and GIS-related experience. The book comes with a set of data that you download so you can get started using real data in ArcGIS Pro, right away. The book is also available as a Kindle e-book from Amazon and a PDF e-book from Packt Publishing.
ArcGIS Pro is Esri’s newest desktop GIS application with powerful tools for visualizing, maintaining, and analyzing data. ArcGIS Pro makes use of the modern ribbon interface and 64-bit processing to increase the speed and efficiency of using GIS. It allows users to create amazing maps in both 2D and 3D quickly and easily.
This book takes you from software installation to performing geospatial analysis. You will start by learning how to download and install the software, then after learning the interface, you create a new GIS Project, learn how to construct 2D and 3D maps including layers, symbology, and labeling. Next, you learn how to access and use analysis tools to answer real-world questions. Lastly, you will learn how processes can be automated and standardized in ArcGIS Pro using Tasks, Models, and Python Scripts.
I like the way Tripp has organized his book: His 300 pages and 11 chapters are full of hands-on exercises. Yes, an answer key is included! For key reasons to consider using ArcGIS Pro in education, see my colleague Brendan O’Neill’s post. Consider using this resource and I look forward to your feedback below.
We write frequently in this blog about educating students and professional development for educators. But, could the general public also benefit from GIS education? I contend that not only can the general public benefit, but it is part of our responsibility as GIS professionals to seek out opportunities to do so. And, when we find an opportunity, what are some tried-and-tested strategies for educating the general public about GIS? In this essay I present 20 ideas that I have used in many different venues for general-public GIS outreach, and I would like to hear about your ideas and strategies as well.
1. Sometimes, a one page information sheet about “Why GIS in education (and society) matters” is what is needed. Here is my document on this theme.
2. You may have the opportunity to teach a workshop or a short course for the general public. I recently taught a course for the general public and titled it, “Why Maps Still Matter”, at the University of Denver.
3. Need an example of an elevator speech? I have a series of them, filmed in actual elevators, here.
4. I created a series of “Why geography matters” videos in this playlist.
5. Events such as the one I describe here at a local history museum are sometimes effective ways. Note that “G-Harmony” was the message here!
6. Geocaching provides a good way of outreaching to the general public. I have created a set of geocaching courses that I have set up and run at events, parks, and other locations. I favor “virtual geocaching” where the course still takes place outdoors, but rather than planting plastic or other containers, I use objects already on the landscape, such as light poles, trees, and so on. Some of these geocaching courses are listed here; all contain a story “theme” to spark interest, such as “aliens land at city park!”
7. Messaging. For some events, consider not leading with the term “GIS” or “spatial analysis” might puzzle or alienate some. Consider “Mapping” or “Spatial Thinking” or “Geo-enabling your …” or Telling Your Story through Maps. I realize that “mapping” is not the end goal – it is admittedly an oversimplification, but it in one word at least gets to some of our message that is at least understandable to someone browsing an event program.
8. Spreadsheets to Maps. If you only have a short time, show (1) a table / spreadsheet; demonstrating attempting to understand it as is, but then show (2) a map of that same spreadsheets’ data. The spreadsheet could be earthquake epicenters, location of hydroelectric dams, countries with high birth rates, or another topic that would resonate with your audience.
9. Create story Maps to help people understand what GIS is – such as the Titanic with spatial distribution and graphs showing quantitative data. Create story maps for campuses, events, or convention centers where you will be presenting. The message is, if you create a story map in the day or hour before the event, so can your audience! They are easy to create and yet powerful.
10. Incorporate Spatial Analysis. Show, in ArcGIS Online, simple but powerful examples of spatial analysis, including the use of the Esri spatial analysis poster: My live examples in ArcGIS Online usually include mapping earthquakes or some other natural hazard, some current event, John Snow’s cholera points, wells, and city streets, or mapping a specific business in a metro area, and creating a hot spot analysis, route, spatial interpolation, or heat map from it.
11. Show current, real world events using multimedia and ArcGIS Online, making a Geo-News out of it and encouraging your audience to do the same.
12. Use Simple but effective web maps to demonstrate and discuss: 600 world cities, plate tectonics with earthquakes, tornadoes, watersheds (drop pin and trace downstream), Starbucks locations, compare locations of two different types of businesses in your community; population change, median age, diversity, and tapestry segmentation. All of these activities are searchable in this blog.
15. Presentations versus Live Demos and Stories. Limit the number of slides you show; it is much better usually to give live demos of GIS in action and tell stories about what you do with GIS, how you entered the field, and what interested you growing up and in school. Ask questions during your presentation and foster inquiry!
16. Paper map and satellite image or aerial photo activity: Create a map from an aerial photograph activity, discuss map elements such as TODALSIGS. Print aerial or satellite image, put in plastic sleeve, use markers to make thematic map on top of aerial.
17. Landforms and land use quiz using satellite imagery: Land use: schools, hospitals, churches, shopping centers, golf courses, malls, apartments vs houses, railroads vs light rail, streets vs freeways, etc. Landforms: Karst, lava, grasslands, sand dunes, barrier islands, glacial terrain, ice fields, mesas and buttes, oxbow lakes, alluvial fans, deltas, wetlands, sinkholes. Weird Earth Quiz: Odd natural and human-built things on the landscape using satellite imagery. Provide multiple choice questions. Along these lines: Other Quizzes: Use Street View images to determine what city or country the image was taken; provide multiple choice questions.
18. Think outside the Box: Tap into community events and make a geo-something out of them. I did this at History Colorado Museum’s “date night” and created an interactive Colorado geography quiz on the large terrazzo map on the floor, dubbing it “G-Harmony.”
19. Don’t be afraid to use some paper maps and aerials/satellite imagery, and thematic maps to foster inquiry and a roll-up-your sleeves conversation around a table. Obtain USGS and other large thematic sheets from www.omnimaps.com, ODT Maps, or other map dealers.
20. Involve the audience in a crowdsourced map that you set up yourself, in answering a quiz, or something else map-related with their cell phones.
What are your ideas to reach out to the general public?
Esri News for Education features case studies of students, educators, and administrators doing amazing things with GIS, curricular ideas, tips on implementation, map and data sources, and much more. In case you missed reading one of the last few issues, they are linked to this blog below. To subscribe, go to the subscription page, then “more newsletters”, then select “Education.”
The Spring 2012 issue features Stanford University’s GIS initiatives, The Los Angeles County Unified School District’s smartphone maintenance app, Palm Beach County Florida’s GIS-based curriculum, Kuwait University’s campus development, students in a native village in Alaska mapping climate change, GIS work at the Tufts University library, and a college student winning a prize for a mobile phone app.
The Fall 2012 issue features GIS integration into Career and Technical Education, school bus routing, smart mapping in ArcGIS Online, advancing STEM education, preserving history at Stanford University, Young Scholar awardees, mapping geology in New Zealand, the Geospatial Semester in Virginia, and more.
The Fall 2013 issue features web mapping with students from Ireland, extending GIS education beyond the classroom, story maps, GIS at 4H, the ArcGIS platform in higher education, the Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS (T3G) institute, GIS in careers, and other stories.
The Spring 2013 issue features the mobile application at Harvard University’s arboretum, GIS education in Africa, work from the first Esri education ambassador, a new Our Digital Earth course, Murray State University’s online business-oriented GIS modules, leveraging social media, community analyst, and more.
The Spring 2014 issue includes distance education at Penn State, converging global trends in GIS education, livening up the classroom with the “undead”, educational heroes, apps in education in Australia, grappling with school district growth, spatial thinking, and other information.
The Winter 2014 issue features creating a bright future for students, Abu Dhabi GIS education initiatives, improving school management with GIS, interior mapping at the University of Washington, returning to college, innovations at Kenyatta University, and other stories.
The Spring 2015 issue features new initiatives in Abu Dhabi and at the University of Redlands, an update on the ConnectEd STEM and GeoMentor programs, crowdsourcing, new approaches to teaching geography with GIS, and more.