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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIS fulfilled needs for course materials for teaching geographic information systems in the early 1990s, prior to the widespread availability of textbooks. The curriculum was developed and made available by NCGIA as a 1,000+ page document organized into three volumes—Introduction to GIS, Technical Issues in GIS, and Application Issues in GIS. Each volume includes sufficient material for a one-term course and contains 25 units of lecture notes with suggested discussion and examination questions. While the Curriculum was designed primarily for use as an instructional development tool, the materials have also been used as class notes for distribution to students and as a self-study guide. Between August 1990 and January 1995, over 1,300 copies of the Curriculum were distributed by the NCGIA to institutions in over 70 countries.

Cover page of Introduction to the Core Curriculum in GIS

Introduction to the Core Curriculum in GIS


This short narrative introduces the Core Curriculum in GIS and provides a historical overview of the Core Curriculum Project, including the later Core Curriculum in GIScience and Core Curriculum for Technical Programs. Appended to this description is an original pamphlet advertising the Core Curriculum in GIS.

Cover page of Unit 40 - Spatial Interpolation I

Unit 40 - Spatial Interpolation I


This unit is the first of two that focuses on spatial interpolation—the procedure of estimating the value of properties at unsampled sites within the area covered by existing observations. It discusses several different methods for classifying spatial interpolation procedures, such as point vs. areal, global vs. local, and exact vs. approximate. Several point-based methods are described, both exact—proximal, B-splines, Kriging and manual (“eyeballing”)—and approximate—trend surface analysis, Fourier series and moving average/distance weighted average.

Cover page of Unit 04 - The Raster GIS

Unit 04 - The Raster GIS


This unit introduces the raster data model for representing geographic phenomena. It differentiates it from the vector model and discusses appropriate applications, how a raster is created, the types of values that may be stored in a raster, and fundamental concepts like resolution, orientation, and zones. The unit concludes with an example analysis using a raster GIS.

Cover page of Unit 65 - Costs and Benefits

Unit 65 - Costs and Benefits


This is the final unit in a six-unit series on the design, purchase and implementation of a GIS. This unit focuses on the benefit/cost analysis: what it is, why it is useful and how to approach it. It discusses how costs, both one-time and recurring, may be determined and how benefits of a GIS may be quantified or otherwise identified. A method for comparing costs and benefits is outlined and illustrated through an example from the Department of Natural Resources, State of Washington.

Cover page of Unit 38 - Digital Elevation Models

Unit 38 - Digital Elevation Models


This unit considers digital elevation models (DEMs) as one way of representing surfaces. It describes how DEMs are created and used, particularly in hydrology. Approaches for estimating elevation, slope and aspect, and for determining drainage networks are presented, along with a discussion of issues that may arise when automatically determining drainage networks from DEMs.

Cover page of Unit 03 - Introduction to Computers

Unit 03 - Introduction to Computers


This unit provides a brief introduction to computer hardware and software. It discusses binary notation, the ASCII coding system and hardware components including the central processing unit (CPU), memory, peripherals and storage media. Software including operating systems, word processors database packages, spreadsheets and statistical packages are briefly described.

Cover page of Unit 41 - Spatial Interpolation II

Unit 41 - Spatial Interpolation II


This unit continues the examination of spatial interpolation by looking at areal interpolation techniques and some applications. Non-volume preserving and volume preserving methods are described, and two special cases of interpolation—mapping populated areas and estimating trade areas—are outlined. The unit concludes with notes on the conceptual foundation of interpolation and its appropriate uses in GIS.

Cover page of Unit 71 - Development of National GIS Policy

Unit 71 - Development of National GIS Policy


This unit looks at efforts in the UK to develop national GIS policy. It describes the Committee of Enquiry, led by Lord Chorley, which was charged with advising the Secretary of State for the Environment on how geographic data should be handled. The committee’s recommendations, general findings and outcomes are summarized, and related activities in the US, Netherlands and France are described.

Cover page of Unit 66 - Database Creation

Unit 66 - Database Creation


This unit examines the planning and management issues involved in the physical creation of the database. It describes some issues in database creation, key hardware parameters of the system, partitioning the database for tiles and layers and converting data for the database. It illustrates these through an example from the Flathead National Forest in northwestern Montana, where a resource management database was required.

Cover page of Unit 47 - Fractals

Unit 47 - Fractals


This unit discusses fractals as a framework for understanding the way cartographic objects change with generalization or changes in scale. It presents a brief history and introduces introductory concepts related to fractals, including scale-dependence, self-similarity and scaling.