Intro to GIS workshop, Friday 9/27

Registration is now open for the first of two Intro to GIS workshops. The first will be held next week Friday 9/27 between 11am – 1pm in the DSSC Data Service, Lehman Library room 215.

We will offer it again on Friday 10/4 at the same time.

The workshop will give a basic overview of GIS, data models, spatial analysis, projections, finding data, and working with your own data. There are two hands-on exercises, both using ESRI ArcGIS software so everyone who attends will get a chance to use the software and explore some of what we cover in the talk.

The Intro workshop is meant for anyone who either has had no previous experience with GIS or for anyone needing a refresher.

Mapping Voting Rights Act Section Five Locations

This summer, a couple of us in the DSSC have decided to sit down and learn Leaflet & D3. We'll post some of the maps we make in the blog throughout the summer.

I'm grateful to Peter Leonard, the Librarian for Digital Humanities Research at Yale for getting me started on Leaflet at the NYPL Maps Hack 2013 organized by NYPL Labs.

As an exercise, I decided to map out the places no longer covered by the recent Supreme Court decision (PDF) on section four of the Voting Rights Act.

I took the tables on the Dept of Justice section 5 covered jurisdictions page, joined them together with boundaries from the US Census Bureau's TIGER/Line, simplified the shapefiles in QGIS (removed several fields too), exported to GeoJSON and brought the layers into Leaflet.

The map is sitting at a temp location until the bugs get worked out and we can include the maps in CU Spatial blog posts.

As you can see, it's fairly straight forward and includes some modified (simplified?) code from tutorials on the Leaflet site. The color choices came from ColorBrewer.

One thing I think would improve the map a bit would be to be able to click on the word 'townships' in the legend and have it automatically zoom to Michigan since at the starting scale, both townships are difficult to see (same with the three NYC counties).

Eventually, I'll redo this map in D3 because it'll allow me to use a projection better suited for North America.

Eventually we'll put the data into the Spatial Data Catalog, but for now I'm including a link to zip file containing both the shapefiles & geojson layers without proper metadata and a "use at your own risk" disclaimer. If you use it and find any mistakes, please let us know!

New ESRI Virtual Campus courses

esri-logoElelven new ESRI VC courses were added to the available list.

The self-pased courses on the list are free for all current Columbia University students, faculty and staff.

Here are the new courses

  • Advanced Techniques for Cartographic Representations (for ArcGIS 10)
  • Basics of Map Projections (for ArcGIS 10)
  • Building Models for GIS Analysis Using ArcGIS 10
  • Getting Started with Cartographic Representations (for ArcGIS 10)
  • Getting Started with Linear Referencing (for ArcGIS 10)
  • Linear Referencing Using ArcGIS 10
  • Mobile GIS: Creating Data Collection Applications Using the ArcGIS API for iOS
  • Mobile GIS: Getting Started with the ArcGIS API for iOS
  • Python Scripting for Geoprocessing Workflows (for ArcGIS 10)
  • Working with Annotation Using ArcGIS 10
  • Working with Coordinate Systems in ArcGIS 10

See the DSSC ESRI Virtual Campus courses page for a complete list of available courses and more information on registration.

Introduction to Cartographic Design 12/2

Next Friday 12/2 between 10:30am- 12:30pm, EDS will offer the Introduction to Cartographic Design a workshop led by Eric Glass GIS/Metadata Librarian.   This workshop is geared towards students taking introductory GIS courses who are in the process of producing project presentations and papers as the end of the semester approaches.  The two hour workshop will give an overview of some major cartographic concepts, including:

-        Communicating your message effectively
-        Creating clear, balanced layouts
-        Symbolization
-        Labeling
-        Use of color
-        Map elements

Registration is not limited to current students in GIS courses.  However, there is an expectation that attendees have had some level of exposure to GIS software, specifically the basics of working within the layout view in ArcMap as there will be a hands-on component working with ArcMap.

Registration is on the DSSC workshops page

Converting Shapefiles to Google Fusion Tables using shpEscape

For anyone who’s tried to go from shapefile to kml and then upload that kml to Google Fusion tables, you’ve likely experienced the problem of all of your attribute fields being merged into one field or losing many of your fields altogether. 

My workaround for a while was to export, if a point file, the table to csv with x,y fields. For polygons, the process involved exporting a kmz, converting to kml with Google Earth, uploading to fusion, downloading csv, merging with attribute data in excel or back in ArcGIS and then uploading a csv. I’m sure that wasn’t the most efficient or only way to do it but at least now I know how painful it was to fully appreciate how nice it is to have a full-on shapefile to kml convertor.

So while watching Google’s Mano Marks talk about Fusion Tables in a video and then again in a video from Google’s I/O 2011: Managing and visualizing your geospatial data with Fusion Tables I heard about a tool called Shape Escape or ShpEscape. ShpEscape converts a zipped up shapefile into a Google Fusion table with Geometry column that allows you to overlay it over Google Maps like a kml.

I’ve been using Google Fusion for a few months now so I’m by no means an expert but if you have any questions feel free to hit me up at dms2203 at columbia dot edu

Celebrating GIS Day @Columbia event Friday 11/18

Join CIESIN and the Columbia Libraries in Celebrating GIS Day @Columbia on Friday November 18, from 1-4:30p in Butler Library, Room 203.

Celebrating GIS Day @Columbia is an afternoon of engaging GIS presentations and activities to help CU students, academics, and staff discover the possibilities of GIS for their own work. Light refreshments will be served.

The agenda includes presentations of the latest GIS projects at SIDL, a rundown of GIS resources available at the Columbia Libraries, a map gallery, and a geocaching activity.

Happy Geography Awareness Week!

Digitizing, georeferencing, and creating new spatial layers workshop 11/11


This Friday 11/11 Eric Glass will lead a workshop on digitizing, georeferencing, and creating new spatial layers. 

He’ll give an introduction to techniques for creating new spatial layers from various sources, particularly georeferencing and digitizing from paper and imagery.

This will be a very practical, ArcGIS-centric workshop and will consist of a short lecture followed by individual hands-on exercises using ArcMap in the Data Service lab (215 Lehman Library).

An introductory level knowledge of ArcMap is required to attend.

Register for the workshop.

Welcome new authors (and name change)!

We’ve recently made some changes to the CUL Spatial Blog, one of those is the title. We are now CU Spatial, instead of being a libraries only blog, this is now a Columbia University GIS blog.

We have several new contributors from CIESIN, ISERP and GSAPP with lots of experience, knowledge and interests joining us. we’re very excited about this change and seeing all the future posts from each of the writers!

GIS Workshop – Coordinate Systems & Projections

Next Friday 10/7 from 10:30-12:00 there will be a new GIS workshop "Coordinate Systems & Projections" offered in EDS. This workshop will provide a very generalized introduction to the components of Earth coordinate reference systems and map projections. The focus will be on providing the basic concepts needed for working in GIS applications, specifically ArcMap.