Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems: Theory and Applications

Geographic Information Systems serve as a framework for organizing knowledge about places and for developing logical models of the ways places operate under existing and proposed conditions. Increasingly, the best available information about sites and their context comes from administrative databases and public records based in GIS. Students will gain an understanding of the various forms and sources of spatially referenced information and how these are organized as an infrastructure for administration, research, and collaborative design experimentation. Each student will compile a working collection of data concerning a site of their choosing within the United States. The site database will include aerial photography, georeferenced historical maps, terrain models, land use, circulation, demographic information. This collection will be used to prepare several types of maps that portray critical aspects of site conditions and issues. The same framework of data will be used to create logical models that evaluate the consequences of alternative design schemes.Lectures will review the evolution and theory of spatial referencing systems and data structures as they are applied in urban administration and planning, urban design, and environmental modeling. Hands-on workshops will provide experience in the creation of effective, credible maps, three dimensional urban scenes, and logical process models. Emphasis is placed on developing best practices for organizing resources for collaborative research, and establishing appropriate levels of confidence in the information obtained from maps and GIS models.