Applied GIS and Spatial Analysis


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A more complex data storage mechanism is required. This is the core of a GIS environment: a spatial database that facilitates the storage and retrieval of data that define the spatial boundaries, lines or points of the entities we are studying. This may seem trivial, but without a spatial database, most spatial data exploration and analysis would not be possible!


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Many GIS software applications are available—both commercial and open source. ArcGIS comes in three different license levels basic, standard and advanced and can be purchased with additional add-on packages. As such, a single license can range from a few thousand dollars to well over ten thousand dollars. In addition to software licensing costs, ArcGIS is only available for Windows operating systems; so if your workplace is a Mac only environment, the purchase of a Windows PC would add to the expense. It encompasses most of the functionality included in ArcGIS. A distinction is made in this course between GIS and spatial analysis.

In the context of mainstream GIS software, the term analysis refers to data manipulation and data querying. For example, you record the location of each tree in a well defined study area. You then map the location of each tree a GIS task. At this point, you might be inclined to make inferences about the observed pattern. Are the trees clustered or dispersed? Is the tree density constant across the study area? Could soil type or slope have led to the observed pattern?

Department of Geography

Those are questions that are addressed in spatial analysis using quantitative and statistical techniques. What you will learn in this course is that popular GIS software like ArcGIS are great tools to create and manipulate spatial data, but if one wishes to go beyond the data manipulation and analyze patterns and processes that may have led to these patterns, other quantitative tools are needed. One such tool we will use in this class is R : an open source freeware data analysis environment. R has one, if not the richest set of spatial data analysis and statistics tools available today.

Learning the R programming environment will prove to be quite beneficial given that many of the operations learnt are transferable across many other non-spatial quantitative analysis projects. R can be installed on both Windows and Mac operating systems. Another related piece of software that you might find useful is RStudio which offers a nice interface to R. To learn more about data analysis in R, visit the ES course website.

GIS is a ubiquitous technology. We can expand on this idea and define accidental data analyst as one whose understanding of data and its analysis is limited to the point-and-click environment of popular pieces of software such as spreadsheet environments, statistical packages and GIS software.

The aggressive marketing of GIS technology has the undesirable effect of placing the technology before purpose and theory. This is not unique to GIS, however. Such concerns were shared decades ago when personal computers made it easier for researchers and employees to graph non-spatial data as well as perform many statistical procedures.

The Power of Where | The ArcGIS Book

The different purposes of mapping spatial data have strong parallels to that of graphing or plotting non-spatial data. John Tukey Tukey offers three broad classes of the latter:. This course will focus on the last two spatial data visualization purposes with a strong emphasis on the latter Statistical maps. Geographic Information Analysis.

This special issue brings together four papers that exemplify the different ways that both traditional and novel forms of data can be explored to uncover spatio-temporal phenomena.

The paper by Rosser and Cheng experiments with a relatively new model, the self-exciting point process SEPP , to assess the success with which it can make predictions about future crime locations from historical crime data. Whilst the use of police recorded crime data is not unusual, similar studies aggregate their data to relatively large temporal windows e. This is often not the case, however, as the remaining three papers demonstrate. The work of Ellison et al.

The authors required information about how people navigated the city at a very high spatial and temporal resolution and so developed a bespoke smartphone application to track the movements of the study participants. The paper dissected the data to identify places where people stopped for a given time duration. Although they were not suitable for exploring the daily spatio-temporal behaviour of residents, reliable administrative data did exist in the study area for Ellison et al.

Sydney, Australia and could have been used were they appropriate. In some cases, however, there are not any appropriate administrative data to begin with. This is the case for the paper by Manley and Dennett. In their study area of Dakar, Senegal, there are few rigorous administrative datasets available which hampers efforts to better understand human activity patterns.

To make headway, the authors made use of mobile telephone call data records ; these are records of the times and telephone mast locations at which users of mobile phones undertake some activity with the device.

By examining the volumes of activity over time and space, and coupling this with a land-use classification, the authors provide insight into the interactions that occur across different land uses. Importantly, the data have a temporal component so Manley and Dennett were able to show how these patterns of interaction change throughout the day. The volumes of data that underpin the papers by Ellison et al. In the final paper, by Wilson, Lovelace and Evans, similar volumes might have been expected.

Given that there might be as many as million tweets sent globally per day, it was somewhat surprising that only tweets were found to be associated with walks on the Pennine Way although it is important to note the analysis only included messages with a spatial component. Nonetheless, the authors found that areas of the Trail that were administered under a particular environmental stewardship scheme correlated with higher tweet sentiment, which has potential important policy implications for the implementation of the scheme.

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Regardless of the source of their data, all of the papers represent important changes in the way that spatial research deals with time. For an example of the temporal database debate, see the opposing suggestions for how time should be represented in Date et al. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Download PDF. Article First Online: 08 February Footnotes 1.

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Applied GIS and Spatial Analysis Applied GIS and Spatial Analysis
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