GEOG 488
Acquiring and Integrating Geospatial Data

Lesson 1: Assessing Data Needs


Did you complete the Course Orientation?

Before you begin this course, make sure you have completed the Course Orientation (see the Start Here! menu at left).

Module 1: State College Borough Water Authority


In the first part of this module, you will be introduced to a scenario in which an organization is trying to decide whether or not to make the investment in GIS. You will browse some of their existing data and draw some of your own conclusions about the decision.

In the second part of this module, you will begin to formulate your course project idea and plan. That will be your main focus this week. The first phase of your GIS plan will be to assess your local GIS situation. The assessment phase will require a lot of legwork. If you don't already have an idea, this assessment phase may help you come up with one and to go out on your own and find a few organizations (local government, utilities, consultants, etc.) and begin to document their past, present, and future plans for GIS. A couple of possible scenarios are listed in Part II. You will be expected to contact at least three people in your community by week 3 of the course.

A. Goals

Upon completion of Module 1, you will be able to: define some data needs of a particular organization; identify appropriate and cost-effective data sources for that organization; determine whether available data are sufficient for the needs of that organization, or if new data should be produced; and try to determine whether or not land surveyors should be called upon to produce data.

B. Background

You will load and assess some data provided by a local water authority and think about what the authority's GIS data needs are, what the potential cost to convert their system might be, and consider what steps the authority might take in the future. You will then start to work on your own GIS assessment. You will get in touch with an organization in your area (i.e. local government or utility), find out if they are using GIS, and provide information about how they've made choices in regards to GIS.

C. Module Overview

  1. Make sure you have applied for your copy of Safe Software FME and the license (see Orientation for instructions, if you skipped it). Support for the Safe Software FME is through the course instructor, not Safe Software or World Campus.
  2. Define data needs in terms of a User Needs Assessment.
  3. Identify appropriate and cost-effective data source(s) for a given task or project and consider the merits of private versus public data acquisition.
  4. Determine whether available data are sufficient for a given task in terms of timeliness, accuracy, precision, ethical use, or if new data should be produced.
  5. Recognize legal situations in which land surveyors should be called upon to produce data.

D. Deliverables

This module is one week in length. The required deliverable this week is the beginning of a course project -- problem based learning proposal -- in the form of a simple narrative. Other than that you should be loading the software from Safe, finishing the required readings, and participating in the online discussion. The topic is posted in this week's discussion forum - reply to that post. At the end of the lesson you will see a list of things to post to your web page, but these are mostly to get you to start thinking about your project. If you are having trouble coming up with a project, jot down a few ideas and send them to me and I will help you choose between the possibilities. I realize there is a lot to process this week. Ideally, you will get an idea for your project and start to gather some contact information for your area. If you are able to post some of the information listed in addition to a basic outline narrative, that's great. If not, it should be posted by the end of week 2. By the end of the course, the weekly deliverables should all come together as the final deliverable. It should only need to be polished at that point.

Please see the Deliverables section at the end of Part II for this week's readings and action items.