"Geographic Information Systems" (or GIS) is a phrase that conjures up images of using software to make a map in such a way that the digital base map works interactively with an underlying database.  Indeed, there are a number of software packages that are GIS software.  But a GIS is also more than software.  Software is a moving target; it changes all the time.  To respond creatively to those changes, one needs a broad, liberal understanding of concepts and experience in using them in real-world settings.  If you have had a course that trains you in the technique of using GIS software then you are very close to ready to work in real-world planning (or other) settings.

    Lecture will center on theoretical and conceptual material.  Lab will center on project development. There may also be some guest speakers during Lecture; they will offer different insights into mapping. Click here to see a broad view of GIS software acquisition strategy.

  • Here is an example from 1995 of a real-world implementation.  GIS software is used as part of a broader "Management Information System." Link.
  • Here is an on-going example of a Neighborhood Information System in Ann Arbor.  Link.
Projects for this course, that can be (but need not be) worked on in groups, involve:
  • Creation of a Neighborhood Information System for part of the City of Detroit, in conjunction with other planning efforts in the City.  This group project is an excellent opportunity for students interested in Planning.
  • Group or individual project involving Ann Arbor or a portion of it.
  • Other developed in conjunction with the instructor.
  • Study the course website and fill out the form attached to it and tell me about your interests and the kind of project you think you would like to consider.
  • Get a preliminary website set up by Wednesday Lab and if you have trouble with it, we can work on it.
  • Give a great deal of thought to your project and if working in a group, try to set up an e-mail group, group home page, or whatever else seems useful.
     Lab will offer an opportunity to work together with the instructor on projects; prepare as much as you can prior to sessions and come ready to work in a constructive atmosphere!  We are all new to this technological revolution in which we appear to be immersed; thus, it is important to get together and learn from each other--different people will know different things, driven largely by interest.