Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 17, 2008 presentation: Rick Rupp


A geographic information system (GIS) is a blend of geography, computer science, and database manipulation. It is estimated that 80 % of the data that we are inundated by have a spatial component. A GIS can be thought of as a set of tools and people that can manipulate, organize, and mine this data based on its spatial properties. The disciplines that use GIS are as diverse as the types of data that are analyzed. The common strength of a GIS analysis is the ability to visualize the results in a way we can readily comprehend.

Neogeography is a new internet-based trend where web-savvy folks have recognized the geospatial properties present in our information stream, and merged (“mashed”) that together with the internet mapping protocols made freely available by Google, Microsoft and others. What we see are maps of gasoline prices around the nation, locations of sex offenders in our communities, and the digital pushpins that show where we took those great vacation photos. Neogeography is a populist movement that GIS professionals have kept at arm’s length, yet they have undoubtedly benefited from its popularity.

At WSU the use of GIS software reflects the diversity of applications present in the wider field. Twenty-five departments/units across the university participate in the GIS software site license. On the instructional side we have a dedicated computer lab and professional grade software. Recently, interest has been expressed in establishing a multi-disciplinary Geospatial Center.

Rick Rupp is an Information Systems Coordinator in the Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences. He provides technical support for the campus site license for ArcGIS software, teaches 2 GIS courses on the Pullman campus, and consults with the university community on GIS aspects of their research.

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