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Earlier in the semester, I attended a day-long Intro to GIS workshop at Baruch College. The session was held in Baruch’s GIS Lab and run by Frank Donnelly, Baruch’s geospatial data librarian. As a total novice to the world (heh) of geographic information systems, I found the workshop enormously useful, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in mapping, $30, and a Friday* to spare. You do need to bring a laptop, but the whole program is done with QGIS, an open-source alternative to the notoriously expensive ArcGIS software. And in the event that all you have is an interest in mapping, the tutorial and data files used in the course are all available for download on Baruch’s website. (I personally enjoyed being there in person for live troubleshooting but YMMV.) I know it is too late for this to be useful to any of you in the current semester, but there were three sessions held this fall and I am sure there will be more in the spring.
Per Baruch’s website, the workshop objectives are as follows:
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- Add data to GIS software and navigate a GIS interface
- Perform basic geoprocessing operations for preparing vector GIS data
- Convert text-based data to a GIS data format
- Conduct geographic analyses using standard GIS tools and vector data
- Create thematic maps using the principles of map projections, data classification, symbolization, and cartographic design
- Locate GIS data on the web and consider the merits of different data sources
- Demonstrate competency with a specific GIS package (open source QGIS)
- Identify other GIS topics (tools and techniques for analysis), data formats (raster, vector), and software (open source and ArcGIS) to pursue for future study
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 I can confirm that we did all of these things! We created this beaut, which I learned is called a choropleth map, showing voter participation by state in the 2012 general election:
Although I ended up using R and Stata to produce the maps related to my data project, this workshop provided me with an introduction to language and resources that were useful to me in working on my data set. I learned about rasters (geo-referenced images of space), vectors (abstractions of space; includes points, lines, polygons), where to find the map data I was looking for (I got it here), and which files and formats would be most appropriate for the kind of map I wanted to build (shapefiles–it’s almost always shapefiles).
It may not be as pretty as the map we made in the workshop, and for some reason the key is impossible to read in this particular venue, but I am proud of it all the same!
*Not all Fridays