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Course Details

Course Number: 94-802

Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

Units: 12

Prerequisites: 90-728 Introduction to Database Management, 91-802 Information Systems for Managers or permission of instructor.

ArcGIS is the world’s largest application software package. It is a vast storehouse of geospatial functions and processing. While you will not do any computer programming in this course, you will learn the basics of the world’s quickly-growing spatial data infrastructure and how to put it to work for producing location-based information. While Google maps and similar web-based map display systems have brought map use into popular use, those systems are far from replacing desktop software such as ArcGIS for primary GIS spatial data authoring, composition, and analysis.

A Geographic Information System (GIS) integrates stores, edits, analyzes, shares, and displays spatial data for informing decision making. GIS uses advanced analytical software to explore spatial relationships, patterns, and processes of biological, cultural, demographic, economic, geographic, physical, and other phenomena. GIS is a tool for the manager, analyst, statistician, engineer, scientist, and other knowledge workers concerned with location.

Industries benefitting from GIS technology include business, defense and intelligence, education, government, health and human services, mapping and charting, natural resources, public safety, transportation, and utilities and communications. Applications for GIS technology include banking, real estate, media, retail, national defense, elections, hospitals and health systems, public health, crime mapping, homeland security, sustainable development, natural resources, landscape architecture, regional and community planning, transportation and logistics, and many more. GIS is also providing location-based services and cloud computing. The integration of GPS functionality and increasingly powerful mobile electronics (cell phones, PDAs, laptops) allows many organizations to use GIS for mobile commerce and productivity.

This course uses the leading desktop GIS software, ArcGIS 10, from Esri and covers geospatial concepts (coordinate system and projections, vector map topology, tiled and layered maps), map design, GIS outputs, geodatabases, importing spatial and attribute data, digitizing, geocoding, spatial data processing, and spatial analysis. Other topics such as raster-vector integration, web-based GIS, network, and 3D analysis will also be covered.

By the end of the course, students will have sufficient background to identify the relevant spatial characteristics of diverse application areas enabling them to integrate spatial thinking and GIS analysis into their careers. Students who understand how to use geospatial technologies gain a significant advantage in the information technology field.


Relational database modeling and package skills, SQL or other query language, Windows PC experience.


90-728 Introduction to Database Management 6 Credits
91-802 Information Systems for Managers 12 Credits

Wilpen L. Gorr
Kristen S. Kurland
Sean Qian