Digital Portfolio

Week 1:

J 13:

Introduction to Me:

Interest in GIS:

J 15:

Schuurman Ch. 1:

Week 2:

J 22:

Geospatial Analysis:

Week 3:

J 27:

Mitchell Ch. 1: not done

Week 4:

F 3:

Mitchell Ch. 2&3: not done

Week 5:

F 10:

PUtting People in the Map:

F 12:

Mitchell 4:

Mitchell 5:

Week 6: 

F 17: 

Mitchell 6:

Mitchell 7:

Schuurman 2:

Schuurman 3: not done

Schuurman 4:

Schuurman 5:

F 19:

ArcGIS Chap. 1:

ArcGIS Chap. 2:

Week 7: 

ArcGIS Chap. 3-20: not done


Project Blog:



ArcGIS Chap. 2

There are different Arc products, varying in functionality: – ArcMap is the ArcGIS application for making maps and analyzing data – ArcCatalog is the application for data management – ModelBuilder can be used to create models to automate geoprocessing tasks – ArcToolbox has  a collection of geoprocessing tools, models and scripts.

ArcGIS Chap. 1

– With the right data, GIS allows you to see whatever you want to see wherever you want to see it

– GIS maps contain layers

– Layers may contain features or surfaces

– Features have shape and size (can be represented as a polygon, line or point on map, all together = vector data)

– Surfaces have numeric values rather than shapes 

– Features have locations

– Features can be displayed at different sizes

– Features are linked to information (attributes stored in attribute tables)

– Features have spatial relationships

– New features can be created from areas of overlap

Schuurman Chap. 4 Notes

– GIS was not initially used to its full potential

– Difference between cartography and GIS is the ability to analyze data

– Some of the most important GIS functions are the most simple (measurement, distance calculations etc.)

Overlay Analysis, Set Theory and Map Algebra

– Overlay is the most common GIS function

– Over large areas and with many attributes, GIS is needed to do this function precisely

– “GIS enables holistic analysis of geographical problems and is differentiated from other quantitative  technologies by the ability to address casual and relational questions at any scale, involving a large number of attributes.”

– “Buffering is a way of extending overlay analysis to account for areas that are affected by spatial change as well as to designate protected zones.”

– Overlay is well suited to raster data

– “Set theory is the basis for analysis in many information sciences including GIS.It uses the areas or spatial entities that are the basis of GIS to formally express relationships between them.”

– Map algebra is “a set of arithmetical operations that can be performed on raster data.”

Spatial analysis in the Field: Environmental Modeling

– Environmental impacts of potential industrial parks can be predicted based on information received on already existing parks using GIS and pollution modeling tools

– “Translating geographical questions into variables in order to analyze the relationship of those variables to each other is part of the shift in GIS toward decision making and prediction.”

Building Intuitive Models: Multi-Criteria Evaluation

– “One of the most common applications of GIS is to aid in decision making for spatial location.”

– “MCE is a raster-based modeling tool that allows users to combine several criteria in order to derive a suitability index for location of a spatial entity.”

– “Its value is that it allows the user to weight numerous criteria in order to fine-tune the model.”

The Power of the Eye: Visualization and the New Cartography

– “The projects described above…fail to emphasize the power of the human eye in detecting pattern, and the role of subjectivity in GIS.”

– There has always been a difference between people who use GIS to analyze spatial data and those who use it to map the data in graphical form.

– “‘Intuition’ is used by GIS researchers as a means of making sense of interpreting visual displays of geographical data.”

From Data to Analysis: A Case Study of Population Health

– In epidemiological and population health studies, data and analysis are closely linked.

– “Population health is concerned with the influences that social relations play in shaping the health of individuals and communities.”

– In the study, spatial boundary definition presented a challenge

– “In order to understand how population health varies depending on the scale of the study, and the variables being used, one requires a means of of allowing the attributes to express themselves as spatial patterns.”

– ecological fallacy: “aggregation or scaling introduces a bias when attributing the characteristics of populations or groups to individuals.”

MCE and Analysis

– “do quality of life indicators very between neighborhoods and municipalities in the GVRD?”

– “how can we link quality of daily life indicators to observed spatial differences in health status and use of health services?”

– Using spatial frameworks such as postal codes or census tracts would not work well for this type of study

– Jarman 8 is an index that is used to measure underprivilege

– There were originally 8 variables that were taken into consideration when measuring this, but for Canada only 7 were used

– “It makes more sense to let the data define the neighborhoods than rely on those defined by administrative fiat.”

– MCE and Jarman produced similar but slightly differing maps of underprivilege

– The MCE categories were self-generated, and so they were more useful for health researchers

– “The most salient lesson is that neither the Jarman index nor the MCE analysis can substitute entirely for local, on-the-ground knowledge.”

Calculation and the Rationalities of GIS

– “…GIS clearly supports a trend toward a more surveillant society.” (rooftop marketing)

– “…scanning passports at borders, finger-printing members of specified ethnic groups…are contributing to detailed accumulations of digital data on citizens by national governments.”

– “…the line between the public and private has shifted throughout history.”

– Calculating methodologies of GIS are servants of social goals.

Schuurman Chap. 5 Notes

People and Research Versus Software Training

– “…GISystems are the software and hardware, GIScience the theory and intellectual assumptions that underlie them.”

– GIScience: research and academic training

– GISystems: software and and particular vendor implementations

– GISystems might seem more useful, but both are essential to the continuation and development of GIS

– GIS is slow

– Being precise and following instructions when using GIS software is crucial

– GIS can be learned at a school, or just by using it in a job

– “Universities tend to stress the underpinnings of GIS in a more formal and abstract manner with greater emphasis on abstract principles and the potential of GIS for understanding complex phenomena.”

– Categories for content of GIS journals: Applications of GIS, Spatial analysis and modeling, Data, Cartography and visualization, GIS and society, Ontology and epistemology, Cognitive/spatial reasoning, Algorithms

Feminism and GIS

– GIS has been the “technical realm of geeks (men)…”

– GIS has been considered distant from feminist geography

– GIS is not inherently masculine

– Feminist politics is an issue that makes GIS more inclusive, nuanced and more useful for representing the complexities of geography and spatial relations.

– “Ontology research and feminist GIS have the potential to move the emphasis in GIS from representing fixed spatial entities…to offering multiple vantage points depending on epistemology, and facilitating exploratory research between multiple variables that are difficult to incorporate into statistical  formulae.”


– GISystems and GIScience are closely related

– The number of GIS users is increasing

– Number could keep increasing, but some don’t agree with that

– “…maps are not definitive statements about spatial relations, but representations of a particular point of view.”

– “the quality of the data that populate data models constitute the best indicator of the quality of the resulting spatial analysis.”

– GIS has evolved from being primarily used for things like showing property lines to showing factors that influence global warming etc.

– “There is no better insurance against inappropriate and potentially dangerous wrong analyses than solid training in GIScience.”

Schuurmann Chap. 2 Notes

The relationship between human geographers and GIS is explored in this chapter

– differences in in intellectual culture and practices between human geographers and GIS scholars

– how they have influenced each other

– Human geography is a bit older than GIS as a discipline

 The Distance Between Human Geography and GIS

– no interaction between the two until the 1980s

– there was criticism by cultural geographers of GIS, and further tension between the disciplines was created

– “…GIS was was presumed devoid of theory or abstractions, and…based on ‘facts’ rather than ‘real’ knowledge.”

– GIS argument: “designed to be used in conjunction with knowledge rather than a substitute for it.”

– Positivism (epistemology) became the basis for scrutinizing GIS

– In 1993, a meeting between antagonists and defenders of GIS marked the beginning of increased cooperation between the two subdisciplines

– Human geographers:

– “…technological design and logic have far-reaching and lasting effects.”

“…GIS development is presided over by private sector firms…software is designed to solve corporate problems rather than address social inequities.”

“…GIS is inaccessible to most people in the world…”

“…’colonization’ of everyday life.”

“…maps are a means to exercise and enforce relations of power.”

“…GIS…perpetrates certain relations of power.”

– In Europe (1400s-1800s) maps were used as a means of social organization and spreading “truth”

– These critiques caused a split between GIS practitioners

Epistemology and Ontology in GIS

– “Geographical relations are considered and depicted by both human geographers and GIS researchers along two philosophical axes: epistemology and ontology”

– Epistemology: “…the methods that we use to study the world and the lenses they entail.”

– Ontology: “…what something really is, its foundational essence.”

– “A geographer studying the a forest fire uses an epistemological lens to interpret the phenomena and the spatial entities it affects . The ontologies of the forest, the the fire and the individual trees exist independently of the epistemological lens used by that particular geographer…”


– “Critics of GIS asserted that positivism was the epistemological basis of the technology’s use and construction.”

– This issue has never been resolved

– Many different definitions and version of positivism

– Main idea is that observation precedes theory

– GIS practitioners more frequently identify their epistemological slant as realist

– Another argument can be made that GIS uses pragmatism


– In philosophy: “the essence of being, and ultimate and stable reality”

– In computer science: “a formally defined set of objects in which all the potential relationships between the objects are also well defined.”

– For GIS: spatial entities on earth’s surface( forests, houses, bridges, malls) that require a method of encoding.

Looking for the Social in GIS

– Ernst Mach argued that science should be used to help society

– Max Planck argued that science should be independent of society

– Planck’s arguments were successful

– This led to the destructive technologies used in WWII

– After that, this view of science was widely criticized

– “…science and culture are inseparable.”

– “…you can understand a lot about a technology by examining the social forces that acted on its development.”

Cultural Influences on the Development of Theory and Technology in GIS

– technology is is developed for social purposes in tandem with social goals

– GIS theory is influenced both by cultural and technical factors

– Generalization: elimination of map detail as scale decreases 

– Difficulty with generalization is deciding what to leave off the map of a smaller scale

– The Douglas-Peucker line generalization algorithm became the basis for generalization of line features for two decades

– “…think of the map one sees displayed on the screen as the tip of an iceberg.”

Human Geography and GIS in the New Order

– increasing cooperation between human geographers and GIS

– how can PPGIS be rewired to better accommodate public participation?

– GIS use is dynamic and constantly changing

– GIS is a very flexible techonolgy



Mitchell Chap. 7: Mapping Change

Why Map Change?

– to anticipate future conditions (where to station police officers based on past crimes)

– decide on a course of action 

– to evaluate the results of an action or policy

– mapping where/how things move over time lets you understand their behavior better (metereologist predicting hurricanes)

Defining Your Analysis

Types of Change

Change in location:

– mapping this helps to predict where things will happen in the future

Change in character or magnitude:

– shows how conditions in a given place have changed

– different categories of land cover in a watershed compared to a time in the past

The Geographic Features

Features that Move:

– Discrete features can be tracked as they move through space (hurricanes, vehicles, stream channels, spread of a wildfire)

– Events like earthquakes or crimes can be mapped over a period of time to show their movement

Features that change in character or magnitude:

– Discrete features – stores whose sales change from month to month, streets whose traffic volume changes over a 24-hour period

– Data summarized by area – totals, percentages etc. associated with features in defined areas (population in each county from year to year)

– Continuous categories – type of features in a place (land cover type)

– Continuous values – continuous quantities (air pollution levels)

Measuring Time

– The time pattern:

– A trend

– Before and after

– A cycle

The Information Needed from the Analysis:

– How much it changed

– How fast it changed

Three Ways of Mapping Change

– Creating a time series: good for showing changes in boundaries, values for discrete areas or surfaces

– Creating a tracking map: good for showing movement in discrete locations, linear features or area boundaries

– Measuring and mapping change: used to show the amount, percentage or rate of change in a place.