Spatial Thinking in Planning Practice: An Introduction to GIS
Yiping Fang, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Vivek Shandas, Portland State University
Eugenio Cordero, Portland State University
Pub Date: 2014
ISBN 13: 978-1-3127789-8-6
Publisher: Portland State University Library
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This book is an introduction to GIS for planning students. Its main goal (from the preface) is to “help students acquire the technical skills of read more
This book is an introduction to GIS for planning students. Its main goal (from the preface) is to “help students acquire the technical skills of using software and managing data base, and develop research skills of collecting data, analyzing information and presenting results.” The essential concepts of GIS (e.g., GIS introduction, data models, and coordinate systems) are covered in the first part of the book, but could be made more relevant for planning students using more examples from this discipline throughout the text in addition to the case studies that are provided as additional materials. Also, adding a section on scale and its relation with resolution would be appropriate for an introductory text. Developing the research and technical skills described in the preface would require a more substantial and extensive coverage of concepts and methods in GIS/Spatial Analysis in addition to a hands-on tutorial (the latter is mentioned by the authors at the end of the preface). A table of contents is provided, but there is no glossary or index of terms which would be very useful.
It is not easy to write an introductory text that accessible, rigorous, and technically sound. The book is accurate overall, but some paragraphs and concepts would benefit from a more technical, rigorous, and/or precise coverage in addition to the more “casual” introduction of the concepts provided. For example, these two sentences need revision in my opinion: page 5 “the features will not float somewhere within the cell”, and, on page 15 “The Earth’s constant spinning […], ruining its perfect spherical shape […].” Some key concepts need to be defined explicitly in the text. For instance, there is not a definition of GIS in chapter 1 (Defining a GIS) and chapter 2 (Coordinate systems and Projecting GIS data) mentions the terms geoid and ellipsoid in a discussion about projections without defining them first. This can be challenging for students that are not familiar with these concepts, which is likely in this case. In some cases, I believe that some important points where omitted or not emphasized sufficiently, for example: real-world features can be represented using both models (vector and raster). However, the vector model is more adequate to represent discrete data and the raster model for continuous data. The same feature (e.g. a city) can be represented using different vector geometries (e.g. as a point or polygon) depending on the scale.
Most of the concepts covered in the first part of this book are the fundamentals of GIS (data models, coordinate systems) and are up-to-date. The content that will need more revisions to remain updated (e.g., Chapter 10, Future of GIS), will be relatively easy to update since it is divided into separate chapters. The main recommended reading in Chapter 10 is from 2008, more recent references are needed here giving the rapidly evolving nature of this field (and the variety of perspectives about its future). The links to other materials are useful, but will need to be checked to ensure they work.
The authors aim to introduce key concepts in an accessible manner. This is very important for novice students of GIS and urban planning, however, there are several concepts in the text that need to be defined more precisely or that need to be fully defined before introducing them into the text (as noted above,on accuracy). Overall, I think the text could be clearer and more direct. Some content could be omitted or structured differently to make the text more concise. For instance, the advantages/disadvantages of raster data formats are discussed in both chapter 1 and 9.
The book seems consistent overall, at least in terms of terminology. However, it is important to consider that the first part is written by the authors, but chapters 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10 mostly consist of an introduction from the authors followed by a recommended book chapter from other authors in the field.
Yes, the book can be read/assigned as separate chapters, but it is important to understand the fundamentals before the chapters on analysis.
The sequence of the first chapters presents the fundamentals for GIS in a logical manner, but the remaining sequence of chapters looks less coherent to me. Chapter 9 seems to belong to the fundamentals, but perhaps the authors thought it is less important for planning and included it at the end. Likewise, chapter 5 is more of a reflection on the representation of spatial information that could be better understood after covering the methods to represent this information. A table of contents is provided, but perhaps the organization would improve having some chapters (e.g., Raster data models) at the beginning and renaming some sections (e.g., “to standardize or not to standardize”) to be more consistent with the others. I would revise the organization of some sections within chapters and the order in which the material is presented to facilitate its understanding and establishing relationships among concepts. For instance, I think chapter 2 needs a clear differentiation between projected (planar) and not projected (geographic coordinate systems) coordinate systems. Since there is only one level of organization in the chapter, the headings for Geographic coordinate system, UTM, Sate Plane, Datum, and On-the fly projection are at the same level, which blurs the relationships existing among these concepts (e.g., UTM and Sate plane are both examples of projected coordinate systems).
The interface is appropriate. Updating some figures will make the book more appealing, some are a little blurry too (e.g. Fig. 1.5, 1.6).
There are a few typos and subject-verb agreement errors.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive.
The book seems to assume students’ familiarity with ArcGIS and its use, adopting and discussing some of its terminology. This is not mentioned in the description of the book or its preface.
As an instructor teaching GIS in planning, I am looking for a good textbook. I totally agree with the authors that there is a “deficit of read more
As an instructor teaching GIS in planning, I am looking for a good textbook. I totally agree with the authors that there is a “deficit of introductory textbooks specifically written for planning students, whose career paths may require a certain set of GIS skills that differ from those taught in geography or other departments.” I am glad to see this book tries to fill this deficit.This book does cover most of the essential or fundamental areas for planning practice, such as data format, coordinate system, topology, mapping ,etc. However, I would suggest to add a couple of additional topics, since there are 10 chapters in this book, which might be a little short using as the textbook for a semester-long course.
The contents presented in this book are accurate and unbiased.
The external links are relevant and provide additional contextual applications. However, I do have the concern that some links might not be available with the time goes.
It is not possible to write a GIS book without any technical terminology. The authors have done a good job to keep the book easy to understand.
The first half of the book is consistent in terms of concepts and fundamentals. However, the second half of the book refers more chapters from different other books, which are not always consistent.
When I look for a good textbook, I hope to find a book that the whole book is broken into multiple modules. Each module is a bigger topic with multiple chapters and each chapter is suitable for one week. The contents and chapters in this book are kind of organized and laid out in this way. Also, inside each chapter, there are subheadings breaking down blocks.
As I mentioned in the last comment, the organization of this book is in a logic and clear flow. It starts with essential concepts and fundamentals of GIS, then goes toward more planning related.
The text is free of significant interface issues.
When reading through the book, I did not notice significant grammatical errors.
No content in this book is culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.
Although it requires additional work on tutorials and exercises, I would consider to use this book in future.
The authors present a moderately detailed explanation of the common areas for an introduction to geographic information systems class. Further read more
The authors present a moderately detailed explanation of the common areas for an introduction to geographic information systems class. Further details for the topics are linked at the end of the sections and that helps bring additional content to the user. I was hoping for more content with some of the sections, but as an introduction book, this can be added by the users.
The content presented is accurate although I would present a few of the topics in a different order.
The topics outlined are mainstays in this field. The authors don't do into web technologies, but I think that may be helpful to mention disseminating data.
The text is very easy to read and isn't filled with complex terms (that is somewhat typical in this field).
Terminology is consistent across the chapters.
With additional links and study areas, the content can be expanded quickly.
A couple of the topics (Chapter 2), could be moved around to be organized better for real world knowledge.
I enjoyed the visuals (some need to be a little higher resolution) and the flow of the book was smooth.
The text is neutral.
The textbook presents more of a summary of fundamental GIS topics than it does a comprehensive review of the material. However, this is exactly what read more
The textbook presents more of a summary of fundamental GIS topics than it does a comprehensive review of the material. However, this is exactly what is needed and is perfect for an introduction course in GIS. Chapter 1 provides a nice background about how the concepts of GIS have actually been around for a very long time, but is now handled more efficiently with computer technology. It provides an overview of raster and vector data and extended descriptions of points, lines, and polygons. It gives an excellent description of data categories (for levels of measurement) and their possible analytic operations. Chapter 2 presents a good discussion of map projections and the graticule and explains about the choices of projection based on least distortion. This section explains how even though GIS software can convert projections on the fly, it is still important for the student to understand the reasons for the projections they will use. It also gives a good explanation of commonly used UTM and State Plane projections and a quick overview of most common datums: NAD27, NAD83, and WGS84 which is commonly used in most GPS devices. Chapter 3 presents a good definition of topology as a field of mathematical relationships between nodes, edges, and faces with descriptions of each and how they share their geometry. Chapter 4 gives an overview section on viewer's perception of different types of thematic maps that are available. It explains in a very simply way single point, dot density, graduated symbol, pie chart, bar chart, choropleth maps and how patterns can be recognized and interpreted by viewers more easily. Chapter 5-9 discuss additional GIS topics that are detailed in other references and encourages the students to review those texts.
The textbook accurate on the GIS topics presented and cites the references for further review.
The text content is currently up to date and relevant in the GIS field. However, since GIS is based on growing and ever changing technology some chapters may need to be revised and updated at times to include new technology. The text is laid out with chapters 4 presenting fundamentals and chapters 5-9 presenting summaries of other texts that can should be reviewed for full details. This layout can easily be updated as technology changes.
The textbook is written such that a beginning student without previous or technical knowledge of GIS can understand. The definitions and explanations given in the beginning chapters are clear and concise.
The beginning chapters present some fundamentals of GIS that are absolutely necessary for any student beginning to learn how to use GIS. However, chapters 5-9 give a brief summary of other topics presented in other texts and encourage the reader to view those references for more in depth detail. This switch in style does tend to break the consistency in reading just a bit. But I do find that it entices the reader to review the additional references.
This text can definitely be divided and used in preparation of individual lectures in an introductory GIS course. None of the chapters present material that is not needed and the order is as expected for teaching students that are just learning about GIS. It laid out in a manner that is already organized and can follow along with introductory course lecture notes.
The first four chapters take the beginning student through fundamentals necessary for GIS work. The last chapters however lead the student to other references for an in depth review. Although still logical and clear, this switch does disrupt the flow of the text a bit. The was one topic that was not discussed that would definitely be useful to the beginning GIS student. I believe it would be helpful to have a section on scale. Scale is a topic that often confuses student when creating maps as well as understanding how some maps may have scale issues that can impact how results are interpreted.
There were no interface issues, navigation problems, distortion of images, or any other distractions noticed.
Only one typographical error and no grammatical errors were noticed.
This textbook does not have any cultural influence of any kind.
I plan to use this textbook in a Civil Engineering GIS Applications course. The first four chapters are perfect for the student with no previous GIS knowledge. These chapters will help the student understand different data models, proper use of projections, topology, and the different types of thematic maps.
This text covers many areas of GIS within planning practice. The basics of GIS are presented substantially more strongly than their connection to read more
This text covers many areas of GIS within planning practice. The basics of GIS are presented substantially more strongly than their connection to planning; however, there are hyperlinked readings that provide nice examples for the applications. I do think the presentation of GIS ideas within the framework of urban planning is a helpful innovation. In many cases, the concepts are not presented in a stand-alone manner within the text, but would require the lecturer to clarify ideas. For example, many terms are introduced without adequate definitions for beginning students. There is no index or glossary, but there is a table of contents and the text is searchable.
The content is accurate and without bias. There are some typos.
The text is certainly relevant and will be easily updated and ideally more fleshed out.
There is a fair amount of variance in the clarity of the text. As I noted earlier, there are a lot of terms that are introduced without adequate definitions which would, I think, be difficult for a student first encountering the material. The beginning sections are very clear while the latter sections are less so.
The text is consistent in terms of terminology, but there are many some cases where a list does not align with the text that is supposed to accompany it. For example, the discussion of types of projects, a key topic for using GIS, is not consistent with the list that precedes it on the same topic.
The text is certainly modular, There are some sections I feel are much stronger than other and would be more likely to assign.
The beginning is very strong, but the organization suffers in the later chapters - particularly those that address application in planning practice.
I think this is fine.
Some small lack of subject verb agreement.
The book is not insensitive in any way.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Defining a Geographic Information System
Chapter 2: Coordinate Systems and Projecting GIS Data
Chapter 3: Topology and Creating Data
Chapter 4: Mapping People with Census Data
Chapter 5: Lying with Maps
Chapter 6: To Standardize or Not to Standardize?
Chapter 7: Geographic Considerations in Planning Practice.
Chapter 8: Manipulating GIS Data
Chapter 9: Raster Data Models
Chapter 10: The Future of GIS
About the Book
The goals of this textbook are to help students acquire the technical skills of using software and managing a database, and develop research skills of collecting data, analyzing information and presenting results. We emphasize that the need to investigate the potential and practicality of GIS technologies in a typical planning setting and evaluate its possible applications. GIS may not be necessary (or useful) for every planning application, and we anticipate these readings to provide the necessary foundation for discerning its appropriate use. Therefore, this textbook attempts to facilitate spatial thinking focusing more on open-ended planning questions, which require judgment and exploration, while developing the analytical capacity for understanding a variety of local and regional planning challenges.
While this textbook provides the background for understanding the concepts in GIS as applicable to urban and regional planning, it is best when accompanied by a hands-on tutorial, which will enable readers to develop an in-depth understanding of the specific planning applications of GIS. In the end of each chapter, we also provided several discussion questions, together with contextual applications through some web links.
About the Contributors
Yiping Fang is an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. Her research and teaching examines spatial structures from social sciences' perspective, focusing on China's urbanization, and other international urban development challenges. Dr. Fang has an undergraduate degree in Architecture, Masters in Urban planning from Tsinghua University in Beijing, and completed her PhD in Design and Planning at the University of Colorado. Prior to joining Portland State, she worked as a research associate at Brown University (Rode Island), and an academic staff at Erasmus University (Rotterdam, the Netherlands).
Vivek Shandas is an Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. His research and teaching interests focus on the intersection of humans, their biophysical environment, and the role of institutions in guiding the growth of urban areas. Dr. Shandas has an undergraduate degree in Biology, Masters in Economics, and Environmental Management and Policy, and completed his PhD at the University of Washington. Prior to joining Portland State, he worked as an outdoor school teacher (Oregon), grade-school curriculum developer (California), and a policy analyst and regional planner (New York).
Eugenio Arriaga is an doctoral candidate in Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. His areas of research are sustainable transportation –with an emphasis on bicycling; access to public transit; and the role of the built environment on gendered travel behavior and how it vary by class, race, and family structure. Eugenio has an undergraduate degree in Law, a Masters in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University, and a Masters in Public Management from ITESO University. Before starting his PhD in Portland he worked for the city of Guadalajara in Mexico in the fields of social policy, cultural affairs, city planning, and active transportation, where he was responsible of the construction of the first segregated cycle-track.