Spring 2013 - 62825 - PA388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy

Introduction to GIS for Public Affairs

This course assists students to develop skills in information discovery and problem solving applying geographic information systems (GIS) to public affairs.

Local, state and country governments face increasingly complex decision on how to maintain or regain economic prosperity. In a world with limited resources, governments seek to ensure social stability and achieve improvements in quality of life for most residents. An array of incentives and other efforts try to provide some tools towards these goals. The tools to be effective need to be tuned to the conditions and integrated with the available resources. Decision makers who design these policies in some instances have limited analytical resources. Facts and data in the US are abundant, but converting data into relevant and useful information requires time, skill, and judgment. A Geographic Information System can often facilitate this decision making by painting a clearer picture of the conditions and their analysis.

How can a GIS be used to evaluate or help solve public affairs or policy questions?
This course begins with a survey of geographic information, including maps, satellite imagery, census data, and tabular data. The class lecture discusses approaches to spatial data analysis and tools for integrating and examining spatially-explicit data. The course emphasis is on fundamental concepts of geographic information science and associated technologies. Topics include geographic data structure, cartography, remotely sensed data, statistical analysis of geographic data, spatial analysis, map design, and geographic information system software.
GIS skills have proven to be helpful to the field of public affairs. Upon completion of this course, students should have the necessary skills to assemble relevant information, construct maps and perform analysis which can be used in a variety of settings. Students will be exposed to a variety of introductory GIS concepts and topics. Students who desire to know more about the theoretical basis of mapping should continue with more advanced GIS courses.
This course has a lecture session and a lab session. The lecture meets on Wednesday evenings in SRH 3.316/350. The lab meets in CLA 1.402 on Thursday evenings from 6-9pm. The will meet for a total of 3 hours - two hours for the lecture and one hour for the lab session.