GIS for Transportation: Principles, Data and Applications

GEOG 497C - GIS for Transportation: Principles, Data and Applications


JD Kronicz, Instructor

Geography 497C is an elective course in the Penn State Master of Geographic Information Systems degree program. In this course, we will explore the important role GIS plays in the transportation industry. This interdisciplinary field is often referred to GIS-T. There is a natural synergy between GIS and transportation and, as a result, GIS-T has given rise to a number of specialized techniques and a wide variety of applications.

To appreciate the value GIS brings to the transportation industry, you need to have some understanding of the business of transportation and the challenges and problems those of us in the industry face. Consequently, we will learn about a number of subdisciplines within transportation and examine how GIS has been applied to each. We will also explore some of the key organizations in the transportation industry who use GIS and learn firsthand from transportation professionals, representing a variety of specialized fields, about the role GIS plays for them.

Throughout the course, we’ll study some GIS concepts and techniques which are fundamental to transportation such as transportation networks and linear referencing systems. In addition, you will have the opportunity to explore a number of GIS applications and tools related to the transportation. One tool, in particular, you will develop some proficiency with is ESRI’s Network Analyst which is an extension to ArcGIS.

Due to the sheer breadth of the transportation industry, we’ll limit our studies to a couple of the largest application areas: highway and transit. Further, we’ll focus our attention on the U.S. transportation industry although much of what we cover is applicable to transportation around the world.