GEOG 583
Geospatial System Analysis and Design

Term Project Overview

Term Project Overview

This course is built around a term project that each of you will complete to integrate and apply your understanding of GISystem design in the context of an application scenario you choose. You will select ONE project option from the list below and complete a system design proposal. To a large degree, you will have the freedom to shape the specifics of your term project around a GISystem context that you desire. I hope that this allows you to either focus on a topic related to your day-to-day work or choose an area that sparks your curiosity.

As you will see below, all project options focus on a “design” and/or “plan” for something (a revised, extended, or completely new system for a specific application domain). Thus, your term project for this course will not be a finished product (i.e., you will not implement a new GISystem or carry out a full assessment or usability study of some existing system), instead you will produce a formal plan for such a product. A good way to conceptualize the term project that you will submit at the end of the term (following an iterative process of preliminary steps and feedback on each) is as a proposal appropriate for submission to a decision maker or funding agency, who would evaluate and decide whether or not to support/fund the idea.

A critical component of any successful proposal is to ground the planned work in relevant existing knowledge/guidelines. Thus, we will work through a series of steps in weekly lessons designed to provide you with (or reinforce existing) knowledge related to multiple aspects of geospatial system analysis and design, along with strategies for leveraging literature and other resources from academia, government, and industry that can help you fill in knowledge gaps specific to your chosen design/plan target. The set of activities in the lessons, along with feedback on your in-progress work, will enable you to end up with a well-organized, well-grounded design/plan that would be convincing to decision-makers judging whether or not to support doing what you propose.

Each week, you will notice at least one page of the lesson dedicated to a goal or assignment associated with your term project. In about half of those lessons, you will have one graded deliverable related to your final project. I've developed a project schedule that is designed to make sure you make steady progress on the term project and that also ensures that we have one full round of draft editing to refine your work.

Term Project Options

Here are five options you have for your term project. You should choose one of these options. If you have another project idea in mind that you think would work well, send me a note so we can talk about it. Your idea may be an excellent alternative to these pre-canned options,

  • OPTION 1: A GISystem design proposal that incorporates the use of mobile devices to access and update geospatial data from the field in real time.
  • OPTION 2: A design proposal to audit a GISystem with the goal of proposing changes that will improve system functionality.
  • OPTION 3: A design proposal for a GISystem application that serves the needs of a professional niche (e.g., forest management, city planning, etc…).
  • OPTION 4: A design proposal that incorporates the use of a web portal to acess and update geospatial data
  • OPTION 5: A design proposal to apply Artificial Intelligence/ Deep Learning to established geospatial products and services.

Term Project Outline

Throughout the semester, you will be building portions of your proposal. In the first draft (Lesson 7), you will be writing your paper following the outline listed below. Although you are not writing your proposal yet, it is important to keep this outline in mind as you begin choosing your project idea and building portions of your proposal.

  1. Letter of Transmittal: The design proposal report is submitted with a cover letter introducing the report. The letter is addressed to the proper decision maker(s), states the purpose of the report, and asks for specific decisions. It also provides decision makers instructions for obtaining additional information and for communicating their response to the design team. 

  2. Cover Page: The cover page identifies the report and its authors. The cover should include the name of the project, its purpose, names of key team members and/or their group/firm, audience, and date of preparation. Graphics add interest and may communicate other values important to the project. 

  3. Executive Summary: The Executive Summary (abstract) should motivate readers to study the full report. The executive summary is a short, powerful synopsis of the report, highlighting important needs, presenting key features of the proposed solution, and listing the significant benefits of the solution. It should be less than one page in length, address issues of greatest interest to decision makers, including pivotal technical and business merits of the conceptual design, and it should recommend desired responses to the proposal.

  4. Table of Contents (TOC): The table of contents is a list, usually before the start of a written work, of the section titles with their commencing page numbers.

  5. Background (~450 words): The background section provides a background of the problem, explains the current situation, identifies the proposed solution to the problem, and provides the overall objectives of the design and proposal. You will write this like a literature review and have sources/citations (around 10).

  6. Needs Assessment (250 words): The needs assessment section should describe the different needs assessment options (scenario based, persona, etc.), which one you chose and why, and how you will implement the needs assessment in your proposal. Also explain the individuals that will be involved in the back end and front end of your design, including the skill of those users (novice or expert).

  7. Concepts Considered (~450 words): The Concepts Considered section describes the options explored by the design team in its search for a solution to the above problem. It should address both original ideas and those derived from other sources. It should summarize the scope of ideas considered and highlight the most creative and relevant concepts for the overall solution and for its component parts. 

  8. Concept Selection (~225 words): The Concept Selection section describes the processes and rationale used for selecting the “best” concepts for the overall product and for the component parts of the design product. It may include summary tables comparing concepts against design criteria or summary evaluations of specific concepts.

  9. System Architecture (~500+ words): The system architecture section describes the overall architecture and components of the design including the GIS workstations, software, communications bandwidth, core capacity, and their location (place or cloud). Also include the interface of the design (wireframe), the steps the user will take to navigate the design, and a concept map to walk the user through the interface.

  10. Economic Analysis (~225 words): The economic analysis section should provide a cost-benefit analysis for your design, explain the specific cost of the design, and justify the costs.

  11. Future Work (~225 words): The Future Work section sets forth clear recommendations and rationale for project continuation. It summarizes the principal features of the product that satisfy users’ needs and provides an anticipated work schedule with milestones for the next phase of the project. Any unresolved issues should be highlighted at this time. Specific approvals for project continuation are requested here.

Please review the Design Proposal Outline document for additional details. You can also find a copy of in Module 1 of Canvas.

Deliverables (for Future Lessons)

In this lesson, you need to think about the term project assignment for this class. You can, this week or next, complete the topic idea assignment found in Canvas. Make sure the project is one that is related to GIS design as outlined above. The project should be one that you are interested in and engaged with so that it is something you want to complete. If you are completely stuck for an idea, now is the time to contact the instructor with a range of things that interest you -- so they can help you choose.

The term project includes the following deliverables that will be assigned to you in future lessons:

  • Topic Idea Assignment indicating which project option you chose and describing in general terms what you will cover (15 points) - assigned in Lesson 2
  • Term Project Outline (or proposal) Assignment (15 points) - assigned in Lesson 4
  • Peer Review of Project Outline (or proposals) (provide constructive feedback on your classmates' work) (10 points) - assigned in Lesson 5
  • Full Draft of Term Project (20 points) - assigned in Lesson 6, due Lesson 7
  • 5 Minute Video Presentation of Term Project Highlights (15 points) - assigned in Lesson 9
  • Revised Final Term Project (20 points) - assigned in Lesson 10

Look for details on each deliverable (including specific due dates) on the Canvas calendar.