GIS 101 – An introduction to
Geographic Information
University of Illinois Library
Goals for today
• A Introduction to some of the things possible
with GIS.
• Look at some maps.
• Think about how GIS can be applied to your
own project.
Other workshops in this series
• Library GIS 102 – ArcMap and census data:
Practice creating maps, finding data, shape
files and making presentation layouts
• Library GIS 103 – ArcMap: Importing images
and giving them locations, creating shape
files, shading areas of proximity.
• Name
• Department
• A sentence about why you are here
GIS = Geographic Information System
• A system to present information and
analysis that has a geographic
• A system that uses maps and images to
track any sort of information.
A wide range of things can form a
Geographic Information System
• GPS in cars
• Maps
• What are some others?
What is needed to make a GIS?
A sextant, clock, compass, tables and
maps make this a GIS.
Where people use GIS
GPS in car for navigation
Google maps
Any map (electronic or paper)
Class projects
Where people use GIS
• Genealogy – trace the routes of your
• Crime by location in a city
• Weather and climate
• Demographics and human interest
• Districts and neighborhoods
Why might you use GIS?
• To answer questions.
In 1900, which U.S. counties had the ability to
produce a traditional Thanksgiving dinner?
Thanksgiving Meal Self-Sufficiency Index 1900 Census
What are some ideas you have
for using GIS?
Family Migration
• Many projects in History touch on migrations
of people, ideas or items.
• Geographically related concepts can be
visualized easier using a map.
• Maps can be drawn by hand, but having a
computer re-draw it when you make a change
can be very handy.
Stacy Maple’s story
• Studying the remains of New Mexico tribes and
• He began to question if there was a relationship
between the locations and environments of the
• “He began plotting. Dot after dot, he placed
each site onto an old United States Geological
Survey topological map. But, again, he was left
with dangling question marks. The points on
paper did not suffice.”
Stacy Maple’s story
• GIS software can calculate relationships between
sets of points.
• He discovered that hunter-gatherer tribes were
located in places with panoramic views where
they could see the surrounding land
• Agricultural tribes did not restrict their location
in that way
• “Everything is somewhere, and that somewhere
matters” – Stacy Maples, Yale GIS specialist
William Rankin
• GIS can be used to visualize complex or
abstract correlations between any type of
information with a geographic component.
• “Deciding to learn GIS to make a single map
would be kind of like saying you want to learn
Excel to make one graph”- William Rankin,
history professor
John Snow and Cholera
• He was a physician in 1850’s London.
• In 1849 he publishing an essay stating that
diseases such as Black Death and cholera were
not caused by bad air.
• In 1854 he created a map that showed the
relationship between cholera and the public
sources of water in Soho England.
• As a result, the local council deactivated the
pump that was the source of cholera.
Soho - 1854 map by John Snow
Red Highlight for the cholera cases
Make the circle size = # infected
Add Blue for the water sources
GIS for interactive urban design
Larsen ‘C’ Ice Shelf
• Shows how the
glacier has been
Bill Rankin’s Radical Cartography
• History professor at Yale
• Interested in the relationship between
science and space.
• The following slides are from his gallery
All map projections have distortion
Making Europe look good warps the U.S.
We can make all latitudes straight
Gall Stereographic projection – stretches Canada
Less distortion of area size creates
curving latitude lines
NAD 1983- State Plane Colorado
Strange Maps Blog
• Interesting maps and commentary.
The Best US map (award winning)
• David Imus – 6000 hours of work
• Careful selection of information included, font
size and word placement
The Best US map (award winning)
• David Imus – 6000 hours of work
• Careful selection of information included, font
size and word placement
• Build simulated cities.
• Place the roads, pick some building styles and
the CityEngine fills in the rest.
GIS time-lapse
• Pedestrians on a snowy sidewalk
Interactive Web GIS
• Historic aerial images of Florida
Interactive Web GIS
• Google Map Maker
Interactive Web GIS
Open Street Map
Public domain, created by volunteers
Anyone can add information to the map
Interactive Web GIS
• Earthquakes – current data
• Linked to USGS earthquake center
• What did you like most about this workshop?
• What would you like to see in the future?
• What GIS skills would you like to learn?
Thank you
• Scholarly Commons for one-on-one
• ATLAS data services and GIS training

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