GIS II Bonus Assignment

The objective of this bonus assignment is to encourage you to practice thinking spatially and to use your knowledge of GIS to solve a spatial problem or answer a spatial question. Knowing what the buttons do is only a part of using GIS successfully. Competent GIS analysts are those who learn how to solve geospatial problems by taking a holistic and planned approach to geospatial analysis, and this may include multiple geomatics technologies and techniques. Many geospatial problems/questions are concerned with finding the best places to put or do something OR places where we do not want something to be placed or to occur. These types of problems are generally referred to as site suitability (or unsuitability) analysis. I like to call them multi-criteria site suitability analysis (MCSSA) problems, because they almost always consider multiple criteria in the analysis. Typically, each of the criteria can be represented in the form of a component map or geospatial data layer and can be of varying geometry types and/or data model (e.g. shapefile/feature class or raster/grid). The actual analysis varies as it is dependent upon the criteria and how they are being used to determine suitability (or unsuitability), but often consists of a series of selection, buffer, map overlay, or the equivalent raster analysis operations. Other spatial problems (i.e. not related to site suitability) include shortest path, cost-distance analysis, location-allocation – all of which are part of network analysis – and point pattern analysis. All of these will be discussed in the latter half of the course.

For this assignment you will come up with your own geospatial problem/question and write a mini essay that will introduce the problem and describe a possible solution , in the form of an annotated flow chart, to solve the problem or answer that question. We will work out the details after the midterm exam but at this point you should start thinking about a problem or question related to your interests or future career goals. Maybe there is already something you have been thinking about and wondering if you could use GIS to solve, or maybe you are already aware of an area of application that GIS is commonly used for in your field. As we continue to learn how to use the vector and raster analysis tools, and other types of analysis, start thinking about how you could actually solve your problem or answer that question.

Later in the term, once we have completed all the topics related to GIS analysis, as well as an introduction to GIS project management and the development/use of cartographic models (aka annotated flowcharts) for outlining the methodology used to solve a geospatial problem, you should be ready to complete this assignment. Your mini essay should begin with a short descriptive introduction of the general topic, followed by a clear statement of the spatial problem/question you will attempt to solve. The next section should introduce the criteria you will consider and the associated component maps or data layers you will compile in order to conduct your analysis. If possible you should indicate where you could source those data layers or how you would collect or otherwise create them yourself. The next section should outline the specific steps you would use to solve the problem and should refer to a cartographic model that you will construct to graphically outline the steps involved. The final section should include a statement of your anticipated results and conclusions.  I would expect your work to be approximately 4 or 5 double spaced pages, not including the cartographic model; but it may be longer if necessary. The deadline for this assignment is Wednesday, April 22 at high noon. Please submit a printed hard copy of the final project, not a digital version by email.