Urban & Environmental Modeler’s Datakit

The Urban & Environmental Footprint 2050 Project at the Institute of Urban and Regional Development (IURD) at UC, Berkeley have constructed a GIS toolkit consisting of a series of ESRI shapefiles and grids describing, “many of the physical, administrative, transportation, demographic, economic, land use and land cover, and environmental characteristics of the 48 contiguous United States.” The data were pulled together by the Penn Institute for Urban Research and and the IURD. Layers include boundary files, census block files and attributes, transportation networks, major employment center information, measures of job accessibility, boundaries of federal lands, elevation and slope data, location of water bodies, and location of wetlands. The data are free and can be used for any purpose with attribution. A great new, free resource!

Open source GIS

There’s been an interesting discussion on the GIS4LIB list over the last few days about good open source GIS and Web mapping applications. A number of resources were noted that are worth checking out as alternatives to ArcGIS or MapInfo.

Open Source GIS is a Web site dedicated to building a complete of Open Source/free GIS related software products.

GRASS GIS (Geographic Resource Analysis Support System) is used widely in governments and academic settings.

A white paper has been written by Refractions Research entitled, “The State of Open Source GIS.” It’s dated May 25, 2006. It gives a summary and then discusses the different applications and tools in current use.

Two books were mentioned as being helpful for those looking into Open Source web applications. Both are held in the libraries and the call numbers are given.

Mapping hacks : tips & tools for electronic cartography by Erle Schuyler. Held at Branner Library. Call number: GA139 .E75 2005.

Web mapping illustrated by Tyler Mitchell. Held at Branner Library. Call number: GA102.4 .E4 M58 2005.

As the discussion continues, I’ll post more resources here.

gCensus: a Google Earth/Census data mashup

Thanks to the eagle eye of the library’s development officer, I was alerted to gCensus, the work of a Stanford computer science graduate student. Imran Hague created gCensus after finding current mapping programs frustratingly hard to use or expensive. He has created a way to make maps online using Census 2000 data and then exporting the polygons to Google Earth. Right now he has Summary File 1 available as a proof of concept with more datasets to be added later. The Mercury News published an article on gCensus yesterday including a 15 minute streaming media interview. Perhaps an interesting person to invite to a future SIG event!

Ruth’s recommendations

Thanks to Ruth, Paul, and Ian for their interesting GIS talks yesterday. Ruth included a number of interesting references in her talk. Want to follow up on them?

“Learning to Think Spatially” by the National Research Council. The book was released to help educators integrate geographic information science into primary (K-12) schools. It’s held at the Education Library and electronically through Ebrary.

Anne Knowles edited a special issue of Social Science History entitled, “Historical GIS: The Spatial Turn in Social Science History.” The journal is held at Green Library and is available electronically through Project Muse. Included is an article by presenter Ian Gregory, “Longitudinal Analysis of Age- and Gender-Specific Migration Patterns in England and Wales: A GIS-Based Approach.”

Ian Gregory’s book, “A Place in History: a Guide to Using GIS in Historical Research,” is held at Green Library and is also available online.

Tools and Methods for the Digital Historian

The AHRC Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Methods Network has created a forum, Tools and Methods for the Digital Historian, for open discussions related to digital history. The Methods Network is sponsored by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council. Quoting from their Web site, the aims of the Network are twofold:

  • To promote, support and develop the use of advanced ICT methods in arts and humanities research and to support the cross-disciplinary network of practitioners from institutions around the UK.
  • To develop a programme of activites and publications on advanced ICT tools and methods and to ensure the broadest participation of the community by means of an open call for proposals for Methods Network activities.

Torsten Reimer, the Senior Project Coordinator, is requesting comments on a working paper by Neil Grindley entitled “Tools and Methods for Historical Research,” which they hope will become the basis of a community resource. The paper contains sections on Tools and Web Resources; Geographic Information Systems; Database Structures; Data Mining; Quantitative Methods; and Visualization.