Geographic Information Systems


Units: 12


A geographic information system (GIS) provides storage, retrieval, and visualization of geographically referenced data as well as design and analysis of spatial information. GIS provides unique analytical tools to investigate spatial relationships, patterns, and processes of cultural, biological, demographic, economic, social, environmental, health care, criminal, and other phenomena.


The course includes lectures, computer labs, and a project using the leading desktop GIS software, ArcGIS Pro, from Esri, Inc. Subject areas include:

  • Geographic concepts (world coordinate systems, map scale/projections, sea level/elevation),
  • Government-provided map infrastructure (TIGER maps, census data, satellite and aerial photo images, local government cadastral maps),
  • Map design (cartographic principles, interactive maps, map animations, and Web-based GIS),
  • Geodatabases (importing spatial and attribute data, geocodes, table joins, data aggregation, and map queries),
  • Creation of new spatial data (digitizing, geocoding, and dissolving vector features),
  • Spatial data processing (clipping, merging, appending, joining, dissolving),
  • Spatial analysis (proximity analysis, risk surface, site suitability, spatial data mining),
  • Macros (form-based tools, flowchart-based design, user interface),
  • 3D GIS (3D surface modeling, draping/extruding features, fly throughs, line-of-sight analysis),
  • Raster GIS (hill shade, kernel density estimation, risk index modeling, raster queries),
  • Data mining and cluster analysis (grouping analysis using centroid models and k-means algorithm), and
  • Network analysis (traveling salesman problem, multi-vehicle routing problem, Huff gravity model location of facilities).

Learning Outcomes

  1. Identify and structure the spatial characteristics of diverse application areas for spatial data visualization, design, and analysis.
  2.  Search for, access, and use the world’s quickly-growing geospatial data infrastructure.
  3. Become a skillful user of leading GIS software.


Objectives are met and assessed through weekly homework assignments, a take-home case study, two quizzes, and a project.

Prerequisites Description

90728 or 90838 or 91802