Geographic Information Systems (GIS) refers to the combination of data, computing hardware and software resources, along with the personnel with the requisite skills to create effective maps and perform analysis using these tools. Architecture students commonly ask about incorporating GIS data and/or maps into their projects and this session will introduce several resources, tools, and workflows that facilitate that process. Upon completion of the workshop, students will be able to:
This series of tabs contain information to compliment an in-person (or Zoom based) workshop. The material can also be used as a review or by anyone who wishes to learn how to work with ArcGIS Desktop.
Visit online GIS data sources and download point, line, and polygon data samples.
The Data Services team commonly receive requests for 'GIS Data' but this is not specific enough to allow a meaningful response. A data request should include the location (e.g. city, county, state) and a list of specific features of interest (roads, building footprints, traffic lights). We have compiled a listing of several good sources here, and you can find others using simple web searching. It helps to include search terms such as "GIS" and "Shapefile", and to specifically identify what you are trying to find and where...for example; the search string "GIS, Shapefile, St. Louis Parcels" will return hits for property boundaries in the city of St. Louis stored in the shapefile format. A 'shapefile' is a common GIS data format that stores location, shape, and usually some attribute information but there are many other data formats that can be displayed in ArcGIS. All vector based GIS data comes in discrete files that store a single type of geometry (point, line, or polygon) and contain a single type of features. For example a shapefile of roads would contain lines showing where the roads occur, perhaps broken into segments at intersections. In addition, the shapefile includes a table containing attributes about each segment such as the street name, speed limit, etc.
Many agencies, states, and municipalities share spatial data like the examples we are working with today. Access is usually facilitated through a public web page. Data Services maintains a list of sources and we also have our own collection that has been compiled over the years. Exactly what information is included in a GIS dataset, how accurately the vectors capture details such as curves, and what scale is appropriate for display would be up to the producer of the original dataset. Evaluating those factors takes time but has a direct impact on how those data can be used in your project
For this session, we will work with examples of point, line, and polygon features from three different online sources. Follow the links below and download the indicated files to your local system...best practice is to set up a local folder and store all of your GIS data inside.
The downloaded files should be saved in your local system, find them and make sure they are all stored in a central folder. Unzip any compressed files and examine the results. Shapefiles consist of several files that share the same filename but have different extensions. File geodatabases will appear as a folder in your system File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) but you should NEVER store items in a geodatabase using the system's file manager.
Our session will focus on building familiarity with ArcGIS Desktop and showing some of the common tasks that Architecture students are interested in learning. We will work with the datasets previously downloaded to demonstrate the process for adding data and creating map products. The hands-on workshop will include guided introductions to the following tasks, additional support materials are linked below each topic:
Creating output from ArcGIS Desktop can be accomplished in several ways and the method you choose will be determined by how you wish to use the final product. Simple images basically capture a do not contain any scale information and may not be appropriate for a formal project map but may be exactly what is required for a figure in draft document. More carefully crafted maps with a legend and other common map elements can be produced at specific scales or with an included scale bar that would allow the final image to be stretched as needed without losing the scale indicator. These steps will enable creation of:
There are many places where layers of interest to Architecture students can be found. A general list of sources can be found here. Another way to find GIS data is to use targeted online searches that include terms like "GIS", "Shapefile", or "Spatial Data". Be sure to also include a specific reference to the types of features you are looking for; 'traffic lights', 'parcel boundaries', 'elevation', etc. Most states and many governmental agencies will share public spatial data through an 'Open Data Portal' that allows you to view, evaluate, and download available datasets.