Geography

What is GIS?

A Geographic Information System uses computers and software to leverage the fundamental principle of geography – that location is important in people’s lives. It is a tool for managing information according to where it’s located. There is currently a shortage of qualified professionals to fill GIS related positions ranging from engineers to telecommunications experts. GIS is one of the most important components in approaching global problem solving. It helps us look for patterns in both the man-made and natural worlds. People in business, government, education, and natural resources are using GIS to analyze markets, manage parcels of land, conduct research, and protect natural resources. 
 

GIS Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is GIS?
    • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a computerized method for displaying spatial data. This means that information about the world is stored in a database and can be viewed on a map. The information can be just about anything. Take your house as an example. There are a lot of different kinds of information you can collect about your house - price, size, number of bedrooms, the year it was built, etc. All of this information can be stored in a table created in a program like MS Excel. This database is the beginning of an Information System. Your house also has an address. The address is a type of geographic information. You put the two kinds of data together - information + geographic - and you have a GIS. You can see where the house is and you can see information about the house.
  2. Is GIS the same thing as the navigation system I hear about in new cars?
    • The navigation system is a combination of two related technologies; GIS and GPS. GIS provides the visual display of a street map. The GPS collects the spatial information from satellites. In the previous example we used an address as a type of geographic data. But a moving car doesn't have an address. However, it can still be located in space using another kind of geographic information called coordiantes. The coordinates are determined by information relyed by satellites orbiting the planet. Another related technology is remote sensing.
  3. Why should I take a GIS class?
    • Geography itself is a discipline that relates to many other fields.  Similarly, GIS is used by people from very diverse backgrounds. A GIS can help deal with complex issues by modeling the earth and developing generalizations about how it functions. GIS can be used in a variety of ways for any endeavor linking information to features on the ground. It is not just something Geographers use. As you will see in the following examples, there is a wide range of disciplines and industries that apply GIS techniques.
  4. What are some example of how GIS is used?
    • Forest managers use GIS to map vegetation areas and calculate total acreage. Wildlife managers use GIS to manage sensitive wildlife habitats and predict where a rare animal might be found. City planners use GIS to determine where to build a new school based on  current and projected populations. Utility companies Transportation services use GIS to optimize delivery routes by finding the shortest path to a delivery site. Business managements use GIS to keep track of where customers are and decide where to site new businesses. Public Heath services use GIS to determine which communities lack accessibility to hospital services and to track the spread of infectious disease. Police departments use GIS to analyze crime patterns. The military uses GIS to predict ballistic projections. Agriculture workers use GIS to determine areas of low or high productivity.
  5. What is the employment outlook for the GIS industry?
    • The growth of GIS applications in desktop computing is expanding exponentially, creating new and exciting developments. GIS technology represents a billion dollar industry worldwide, growing at 25% per year, and serving 50,000 to 100,000 users in more than 100 countries. If projections are correct, GIS will be used by more than a million persons by about 2010. At this time, job opportunities outnumber qualified graduates. There will continue to be a need for environmental engineers to deal with newer and tougher air and water regulations, as well as civil engineers to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. Look at this site to see the type of jobs offered and the qualifications desired by employers. www.gjc.org
  6. When are GIS classes offered?
    • Introduction to GIS (Geog 10) is offered on TR 9:30-11 or on Saturday 9-3 as a 9 week class. Check the Schedule of classes for more information.
  7. Are there any prerequisites for Geog 10?
    • No, only a willingness to learn new things. Familiarity with computers and MS Office programs is preferred. Other useful skills include
  8. Is there a GIS certificate offered at Mt SAC?
      • At this time there is no certificate program. However, two new GIS courses are pending; Intermediate GIS (Geog 11) and Map Reading and Interpretation (Geog 3). Together, these three courses will be part of a mini-certificate program.
    • What resources are available in the GIS lab?
      • Mt SAC’s GIS facilities are state of the art. We have 20 Pentium 4 1.8 GHz 512 mb Flat Screen Computers, 3 color printers, 1 color plotter, 1 Trimble Geo explorer GPS unit, and10 Garmin etrex legend GPS units.
    • Where can I find more information about GIS?
      • If you have specific questions about GIS at Mt SAC fill out the form with your contact information and your question will be answered.