Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ ( Publisher's URL )
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00000902/00001
 Material Information
Title: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Physical Description: Fact Sheet
Creator: Lagrosa, John
Demers, Chris
Andreu, Michael
Publisher: University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2012
Abstract: A GIS can be used in land management to document existing conditions, plan future operations, and archive completed work. Farming applications include soil productivity for different crops, crop yield prediction, and determining fertilizer and pesticide application rates. Forestry applications include estimating forest stand acreage, determining forest stand characteristics, and determining where to harvest.
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Diana Hagan.
Publication Status: Published
General Note: "Publication #FOR288"
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID: IR00000902:00001


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FOR288 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems1John Lagrosa, Chris Demers, and Michael Andreu2 1. This document is FOR288, one of a series of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date March 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.u.edu 2. John Lagrosa, graduate assistant, UF-IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation; Chris Demers, Florida forest stewardship coordinator, UF-IFAS, School of Forest Resources and Conservation; and Michael Andreu, associate professor, UF-IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Gainesville, FL 32611.The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or aliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A&M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Millie Ferrer-Chancy, Interim DeanWhat Is a Geographic Information System (GIS)?A GIS may sound daunting, but if you have ever used a website to map out your vacation route or searched for a restaurant, you have used a GIS. A GIS brings together hardware, soware, and data. At its simplest, a GIS uses computers to process and store geographic data as layers of information (see illustration). Each layer corresponds to a specic type of information such as vegetative cover, land use, soil type, or other attribute. When you click on a cell containing one or more layer of data, information pertaining to that feature is displayed. People can use these results to make decisions for a variety of applications. A GIS can also display detailed information visually to help people understand geographic relationships and patterns.How You Can Use GISAt the corporate or personal level, a GIS can be used in land management to document existing conditions, plan future operations, and archive completed work. ese data can be displayed on a map or summarized in a table. Quantities of timber, tree densities, specic areas (e.g., tortoise burrows or water features), and changes in land-cover over time are all examples of the types of data that can mapped. Farming applications include:en Soil productivity for dierent cropsen Crop yield predictionen Determining fertilizer and pesticide application rates Forestry applications include:en Estimating forest stand acreageen Determining forest stand characteristics such as species and tree densityen Determining where to harvesten Assessingand monitoring risk (re behavior model)en Locating roads Figure 1. GIS data layers Image courtesy of Malahide, Ontario


2 Using digital soil information to determine appropriate species to plant on a given siteen Predicting timber yieldsen Analyzing logging operationsen Monitoring regenerationen Visualizing economic valuation geographicallyTypes of Geographic Information Systemse three main parts of any GIS soware package are the user interface, tools and functions of the system, and data management. All GIS packages use these to operate, but there are dierences in how they are implemented. Soware packages are generally broken into the following types:en Desktop : Installed and accessed directly on a PC.en Web mapping: Accessed through the internet with results displayed in your browser. Provides 2-D maps based on user requests. Includes such maps as physical, topographic, demographic, and specialty (soil survey, navigation charts, etc.).en Server : Access is the same as web mapping. However, a server GIS oers a much wider range of functions at a higher cost.en Virtual Globe: Web-based GIS that provides 3-D representations of maps.en Hand-held: GIS systems installed on hand-held devices that are ready-to-use. Also includes soware that can be installed on smartphones such as the Apple iPhone.SoftwareOpen SourceOpen source soware packages are free and do not require purchase of a license. Open source soware packages can provide many of the same functionalities as commercial soware packages. e most signicant limitations can Figure 2. Source: GIS Stu Blog, http://gis-stu.blogspot.com/ Table 1. Open Source Software Package Developer Type(s) Features Support Quantum GIS http://www.qgis.org/ QGIS development team Desktop, web mapping Data management, mapping, integrates with other open source software for extensive functionality. Online documentation. Thirdparty support available for a fee. ArcGIS Explorer http://www.esri.com/ software/arcgis/ http://www.esri.com/ software/arcgis/explorer/ index.html ESRI, Inc. Desktop, virtual globe Includes 3-D viewer, basic maps, ability to add data, and perform basic spatial analysis. None. MapWindow GIS http://www.mapwindow.org MapWindow Open Source Team Desktop Includes data viewer, modeling system, image processing and map-making tools. Online community with forums and documentation available. Third-party support available for a fee. GRASS GIS http://grass.osgeo.org GRASS development team; Originally US Army Corp of Engineers Desktop Includes data viewer, modeling system, image processing, and map-making tools. Free online book available. Online community with forums and documentation available. Google Maps & Google Earth http://maps.google. com http://earth.google.com Google, Inc. Desktop, web mapping, virtual globe, hand-held 2-D and 3-D mapping capabilities. Includes satellite imagery, terrain, 3-D infrastructure, and GPS tracking. Online forums and documentation available.


3 include the need for multiple applications for full utilization and advanced technical knowledge. Open source products usually do not provide user support, though support may be available for a fee from a third-party provider. Table 1 lists some of the open source GIS or mapping soware available to the public.Commercialere are over 100 commercial GIS soware packages. Commercial packages require purchase of a license to use the soware companys product. ese licenses require either a one-time fee or a renewal fee, usually on an annual basis. Commercial packages generally provide some sup port or provide options to purchase support with greater levels of customer service. Most commercial vendors also oer free and fee-based educational courses. A few of the most common commercial packages are listed Table 2.Choosing a Software Packagee decision to use one soware package over another depends on the features you require. In addition, some users want the peace of mind that comes with knowing they have a dedicated support package included in their license. Others may have more experience using these types of technology and be comfortable with open source packages that may require them to handle any issues they encounter on their own. Prices for commercial products can range in the thousands of dollars. Most commercial vendors will work with you to design a system tailored to your specic needs. Some, such as ArcGIS and Bentley, require it. Be sure to ask yourself, Do I really need all of these features? Keep in mind, these vendors are competing for your business, so do not hesitate to contact a number of them before making a nal selection. Finally, GIS is a specialization or discipline with its own concepts and vocabulary. Soware packages are not out of the box solutions. Rather, it is important to realize that rst-time use oen comes with steep learning curves. Many resources are available on the internet, in books, and in courses provided by vendors to learn how to use a GIS. A few starting points are listed at the end of this document. When choosing a package, you should weigh the following carefully:en Required functionality and types (desktop, web mapping, etc.)en e users comfort level with technologyen User supporten Budget constraintsSources for Additional InformationESRIs Top 10 Resources for New Users: http://www.esri. com/news/arcuser/newtogis.html Web-based GIS: http://gis.ednet.ns.ca/gis_uses_in_US.htm Open Geospatial Consortiumorganization that encourages and seeks to set standards for open source GIS development: http://www.opengeospatial.org/Table 2. Commercial Software Package Vendor Type(s) Features Support ArcGIS http://www.esri.com/ software/arcgis/index.html ESRI, Inc. All Oers a full range of 2-D & 3-D GIS products depending on need, including simple visualization and modeling to advanced analysis and presentation. One-year standard support included with software purchase. Premium support with 24/7/365 telephone and internet help available for additional fee. Bentley Map http://www.bentley.com/ BentleyMap Bentley Systems, Inc. Desktop, server Primarily concerned with infrastructure; Full range 2-D & 3-D mapping application with additional modeling and presentation support in extended editions. 24/7/365 available with Bentley SELECT license agreement. Map3D http://usa.autodesk.com/ autocad-map-3d/ Autodesk, Inc. Desktop Model-based software with a focus on infrastructure. Provides comprehensive access to GIS data. Online forums and documentation available. Autodesk subscription available for purchase with access to latest releases and expedited technical support. GeoMedia http://www.intergraph.com Intergraph Corp. Desktop, web mapping, server Full range software suite that includes data intake and management, mapping, modeling, presentation, and distribution. Included with license.


4 Examples of applying GIS for natural resources: http://gis. com/content/natural-resources GIS Pathwaycontains a number of educational articles and tips for Google-based GIS and ArcGIS Explorer: http:// gispathway.com/ GIS Learning Modules contains learning modules for GIS using Google Maps and ArcGIS Explorer as examples: http://www.ccdmd.qc.ca/en/gis/ US government website containing a number of maps and data sets: http://gos2.geodata.gov/wps/portal/gos Online GIS community: http://www.geocomm.com/ReferencesLongley, P.A., M.F. Goodchild, D.J. Maguire, D.W. Rhind. 2011. Geographic Information Systems & Science 3rd Ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY. 560 pp. ESRI, Inc. 2011. What is GIS? Retrieved on May 20, 2011, from http://www.esri.com/what-is-gis/index.html ESRI, Inc. 2011. GIS for Federal Government. Retrieved on May 20, 2011, from http://www.esri.com/industries/federal/ index.html U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior. 2007. Geographic Information Systems U.S. Geological Survey Poster. Reston, VA. Retrieved on May 20, 2011, from http:// egsc.usgs.gov/isb/pubs/gis_poster/#what