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, which may include multiple geomatics technologies and techniques.

Many geospatial problems or questions are concerned with finding optimal locations/sites 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, as the case may be) analysis. I like to call them multi-criteria site suitability analysis (MCSSA) problems, because they almost always consider multiple criteria. ESRI call this Weighted Overlay 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 models (e.g. shapefile/feature class or raster/grid). The actual analysis varies and is dependent upon the criteria and how they are being used to determine suitability (or unsuitability), but often consist of a combination of selection, buffer, and map overlay operations, or the equivalent raster functions. Of course there are may other spatial problems and analytical tools not related to site suitability. These include shortest path, cost-distance analysis, and location-allocation analysis – all part of the network analyst toolkit – and point pattern analysis. These will also be discussed in this course.

For this assignment you will come up with your own geospatial problem/question and write a short technical paper that will introduce the problem and describe a possible solution, in the form of an annotated flow chart, to solve the problem or answer the 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 short technical report should begin with a 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 3 to 5 double spaced pages, not including the cartographic model; depending on how many criteria are being considered and how involved your analysis is. The deadline for this optional assignment is midnight on the day of your final exam. Please submit in pdf format by email.