Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing
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GIS support is coordinated between the Library and the Office of Information Technology to provide:
- Access to GIS data and software
- Training in the use of GIS software
- Resources to support GIS use in teaching and research
By coordinating GIS support, Princeton:
- Avoids duplicating efforts among departments
- Makes well-documented data available throughout the University
- Ensures that students, faculty and staff have access to the best technologies to manage spatial information.
For more information about Geographic Information Systems, please visit www.gis.com.
Data and Library GIS services
A good analysis requires good data. GIS data are available through the Digital Map and Geospatial Information Center.
One and a half-hour workshops are offered by Library and OIT staff twice a semester (unless noted otherwise below):
- Introduction to GIS
- Introduction to Quantum GIS (QGIS)
- How to Create and Collect Geographic Data
- Raster Analysis
- Vector Analysis
- GIS Analysis using Census Data
- Map Designs for Publications and Presentations
- Using ModelBuilder and batch processing in ArcGIS (once a semester)
- Exploring Google Earth (once a semester)
- GIS and Global Positioning Systems (once a semester)
Interested students, faculty and staff may register for these workshops. In addition, Princeton makes available on-line classes from Esri (publisher of ArcGIS, the most popular GIS software package). Training is also provided to supplement existing classes at Princeton, and Library and OIT staff members jointly teach a half-semester course on GIS for Public Policy within the Woodrow Wilson School. Staff members give presentations at departmental meetings and at various events.
Esri products are available through a university-wide license, and software can be downloaded onto PCs for educational purposes. More information is available on this process at http://www.princeton.edu/software/licenses/software/arcgis/arcgisinstall/. Besides Esri ArcGIS software, Princeton supports a variety of other software products to view, process and analyze geographic data and satellite imagery. ERDAS Imagine software may be installed onto university computers, and Exelis ENVI software for image analysis is also supported.
Limited support is provided for open-source products such as GRASS 6.4 and QGIS 1.8.0.
Updates and announcements regarding GIS Software are routinely posted on the University’s Blackboard system. Please contact Bill Guthe if you are interested in gaining access to the Blackboard GIS resources.
GIS software is very powerful, but can be complex to use. Many research tasks involve multiple steps, which may need to be replicated for many study sites. Research Computing staff members have a variety of tools to help users build models and run multi-step processes in succession.
Google Earth KML and KMZ files
Since its release in early 2005, Google Earth has quickly become a popular tool to view and explore geographic information. For example, KML and KMZ files have been developed to allow Art and Archaeology students to view satellite images and point locations of significant sites. These data can then be linked to other Web-based tools used at Princeton.
Esri ModelBuilder and Python scripts
ESRI’s ArcGIS ModelBuilder allows users to develop flowcharts and programming logic to run iterative models, to export these models to Python scripts, and to document their work in detail.
ESRI ArcInfo Macro Language Scripts
Arc Macro Language (AML) programs have long been used to run detailed multi-step GIS analyses. When researchers in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology needed support for processing ASCII-formatted datasets, combining raster datasets, and other tasks, a series of AML scripts were written to generate the files needed and to provide templates to use for other work.
GIS Data Delivery
GIS data can be accessed from the Internet, from centrally-managed servers, or from the desktop. GIS software can be installed solely on a server, and accessed by users through the Internet or a local network. Client software then uses standard Web browser to view and query spatial information. Alternatively, GIS application software can be installed on a desktop, with the appropriate set of tools provided to the local user.
Research Computing staff may be consulted on optimal deployment of GIS data and analysis tools, and they can assist in creating shared data directories or web-based resources.