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Spatial Thinking in Planning Practice: An Introduction to GIS

(5 reviews)

Yiping Fang, Portland State University, Portland, OR

Vivek Shandas, Portland State University

Eugenio Cordero, Portland State University

Pub Date: 2014

ISBN 13: 9781312778986

Publisher: Portland State University Library

Language: English

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Reviewed by Elia Machado, Assistant Professor, Lehman College, City University of New York (CUNY) on 6/20/18

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... read more


Reviewed by Guang Tian, Assistant Professor, University of New Orleans on 5/22/18

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... read more


Reviewed by William Shuart, Instructor, Virginia Commonwealth University on 4/12/17

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... read more


Reviewed by Gianna Cothren, Associate Professor Civil Engineering, University of New Orleans on 2/9/17

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... read more


Reviewed by Gregory Newmark, Assistant Professor, Kansas State University on 8/22/16

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. ... read more


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.