Geography 222 Maps and Mapping
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Geog 222 Exercise 4: Mapping & GIS Tools
- ASSIGNED in class Wednesday October 24
- DUE Friday November 16 at 9:00 am
Introduction: Exercise 4 will learn youns about the diversity of maps and
map-related information available on the WWW.
Start a WWW browser and navigate to this exercise. You will need to save
digital copies of maps and include them (together in one file, with your typed
up answers) as part of this exercise. See the Digital Submissions Guide for help
with this process, or ask your instructor for help.
Maps on the WWW are available in many different forms: you can locate or order
"real" paper maps (as in Exercise 2), or find digital copies of maps, or make
maps "on-demand,"' view "live" maps that are updated constantly, and download and
use free mapping software.
TIP on citing web maps with very long urls: Some of the URLs for WWW maps are extremely long,
as they contain a bunch of information specifying the map you have requested. A useful way
to create a shorter link to such sites entails using a 'link shortening'
utility such as those found at TinyURL. Create a
shorter link with one of these two sites, and use that URL rather than the
long url in your citation of the map.
WARNING: Many WWW map sites depend on
sophisticated WWW technology that can be slow or even break down. Expect delays
and sites that are temporarily not working. You may also be using a computer or
internet browser that is not compatible with a particular mapping WWW site. Be
patient! If a site is not working well, revisit it at a different time or on a
different computer. Given such potential problems, you should not attempt to do
this exercise at the last minute. Contact the instructor at least a week
before the due date if you are having persistent problems. Contact the
instructor if you want assistance in completing this
1. Map Images: Static Digital Maps on the WWW (10 pts):
In essence the same as paper maps, but in digital file formats such as .gif,
.jpg, etc. A file format is a specific way of organizing data in a computer
file. Such maps are scanned from printed maps or generated by some kind of
mapping software and saved as a image file.
Search for, and save
two map images of your home. International students: these maps can be of your
non-US home. Try to find the largest scale maps
possible - showing more detail and less area - and something interesting (not
the first boring map that pops up in your search). It is just fine (maybe better!)
to find older or historical maps of your home. Some sites to search:
- Sanborn Fire Insurance
Maps were made from 1867 to 1970 in the US: they provide very detailed (large
scale) maps of many urban areas in the US and are useful for historical
purposes. If you are lucky enough to have your home in Ohio, try to find the area around
your home on an old Sanborn Map (which you can access and view on the WWW). You must be
authenticated through the OWU libraries computer system to access these maps. Please ask a
librarian or your instructor if you don't know how to do this.
- The U.S.
Library of Congress American Memory Project has many historical maps
and related images from places in the United States. Search by place name or
geographic location or subject.
University of Colorado Department of Geography provides
links to significant map image collections. Worldwide coverages.
- The David Rumsey Map Collection
is one of the largest archives of digital historical maps. The collection
focuses on the Americas, but does contain a significant number of historical
maps from around the world. The site has several options for viewing the maps,
at least one which requires downloading some software (ok if you are using your
own computer or working in the GIS lab, but don't use this option on any other public
- Harvard Map Collection. Worldwide coverage.
- AGS Map Collection. Worldwide coverage.
- British Library links to online collections. Worldwide coverage.
- Many static digital maps on the WWW can be found by using an image
search engine. Such searches locate images, rather than text. Both
Google and Yahoo offer image searches. Go to
either site, click on Images then type in your town and state (or
county, or province, or whatever). You may include 'map' if you get too
many entries. Try different search words - you should be able to find some
decent digital static maps of your home, wherever it is.
Please avoid submitting a map from Google Maps, Yahoo!, Map Quest,
Expedia, MSN Maps, etc. These are more or less all the same anymore, based on
data from NAVTEQ, with some relatively minor design differences.
2. WWW Map Generators (10 pts):
Map Generators reside on a computer server - a computer that allows you
to run programs stored on it via the internet. Through a web browser and web site,
you request a
custom map (in essence, a map image). Among the
earliest and most popular of such mapping and GIS tools are those that can
locate an address or plot directions between several locations.
You have all used Google Maps, Yahoo!, Map Quest, Expedia, MSN Maps, etc. They are more
or less all the same given they use data from NAVTEQ. The
real growth area is sites that map out additional data on top of the maps provided by such
general web mapping sites. Such combined map sources are typically called mashups, and
we will do more with them in a future exercise.
For now, take a look at one rather interesting mashuppy site that generates walkability
scores for any US address you enter: Walk Score.
Go to the Walk Score site and type in your
home address: international students, try your real home address and see if it works (if
not, use your US address). Also type in the address
of Ohio Wesleyan (61 South Sandusky Street, Delaware, OH, 43015) or (if you are using
campus as your home address) your instructor's home address (231 Crestview Road, Columbus,
Grab the map from your home address and campus, and include in the exercise. Look up
and write a half-page or so on what they mean by "walkability." Write up
another half pages or so discussing and comparing the walkability of both places, and comment
on how well the site represents the walkability of your home address.
- What's Due: Type 1 page comparing the two walkability maps. Include the
two maps in your document.
3. WWW-based GIS (20 pts):
The DALIS Project is Delaware
County's very own award winning source of detailed county level geographic data
and maps and the software to view and analyze the data. The DALIS site is an
example of a "real" online GIS with GIS analysis functions (something the map
generators, reviewed in the previous section, lack).
- Click on Dalis Web IMS (half down the list of links on the left), then
click General and an honest-to-goodness GIS application should open
up in a new window. This is about as fancy as it gets when it comes
to on-line GIS.
- Click on the Thematic maps button (on the lower left) and some
pop-up menus will appear. Under Parcel select Land Use. Grab
the magnifier tool from the menu, and drag a box over the city of
Delaware. Click a few more times to zoom in until you see the different
land uses of individual property parcels. You can move around the map
by selecting the hand tool. Move around until you have the OWU
campus and surrounding areas on the map. Click on the legend tool (a
L in a circle) to see the legend for the map.
- For more information about a particular parcel, select the identify
tool (an i in a circle).
- Under Parcel select Appraised Value then Year Built
then Living Area. Look at the legend for each.
- What's Due: Type 1/2 page: Save two of the four maps that you
find to be the most interesting. Cite the map properly, and write
1/2 page on how you might use this information.
Return to the main Dalis
Interactive Map Server page and select General again. Lets spy
on a Delaware County property owner.
- On the upper right side of the page under Search click on
By Name. A window should pop up. Type in the last name of a
county property owner. Try OWU faculty and staff you know - or anyone else
who owns property in Delaware County. The Search
Results window (upper right) will show you if you found a property owner
in the county. Click Zoom To to zoom to the property. Use the
identify tool to get details about the property. Save the
- Generate a buffer around the property you located: click on
Buffer in the upper right part of the page. Enter a distance to
buffer - say 100 or 500 feet. Submit. Save the resulting map.
- Click the Appraisal Info button to see more property details.
The options are along the left side of the page. Click on Image and
Payments and a few other options. Save one page of information
about the property owner you find.
- What's Due: Type 1/2 page: Include your two maps + one page of
property details in this
exercise. Please cite all this information correctly. Discuss, in 1/2
page, how you might use this information, and why the Buffer feature
might be useful.
Non-Delaware County residents in the US: You may want to search the WWW and find
out if your home county has a GIS site similar to Delaware's DALIS site.
Usually such sites are associated with the county tax assessor. Find your home
county's official WWW page (this should not be a commercial site, but the
official county web page), and look for a property information link. If you
find one, search for information about a property owner (your parents? friends?
FINALLY: Read up on the legal issues surrounding public
access to property information reviewed by Deb Peoples on the Geography 222 Library
Resources Page under the heading Public Records. Please ponder
the consequences of making the kind of very specific property data available on
the WWW. Discuss potential good and bad consequences of such data being so
easily available. Remember, the law requires certain specific information to be
made public. Just saying "I don't think it is a good idea" is not enough:
explain why is it not a good idea (or why is it a good idea?).
- What's Due: Type 1 page: of your intelligent (eg., non-paranoid,
non-hysterical) thoughts about
public access to property information on the web.
4. WWW Real-time Maps and Images (5 pts):
Real time maps and images differ from map generators and browsers in that they
consist of continuously updated images or maps usually focused on a particular
topic or site. These are, in essence, "live maps."
- Real-time maps of world earthquakes are provided by the U.S. Geologic Survey
and Seismic Monitor.
Explore both sites and save at least one screen shot.
- Real time maps of
International Alerts - select from the list of map options on the left
side of the page (worldwide or regional scale maps). Save a screen shot of
at least one map.
- Real time traffic conditions:
- Go to Google Maps and search
for your home town (US or international). On the right side of the screen,
select Traffic. Traffic should be available for most US and international
- If traffic conditions are not available: choose a different location.
- If your home is a more rural area, move to a nearby city where there is
- Save a screen shot of the traffic conditions you find.
- What's Due: Type 1 page: Look at Geeknizer's explanation of
How Google Maps
Traffic Works. Consider the issues near the end of the article, on
privacy ("geoprivacy") and explain your perspective on participating (or not)
in the collection of traffic data (if you don't have a phone with location
services, pretend you do - because you will one day).
5. Free Mapping & GIS Software (5 pts):
Because of the functional limitations of web-based mapping and expense of
desktop GIS applications such as ArcGIS, several vendors are providing free
downloadable GIS software, with links to data on the internet. Google
Earth was among the first of these free mapping applications, most of
which are considered to be
- Google Earth: is installed on computers in the GIS lab for
your enjoyment, or you can download it onto your own computer (here). Don't download it on other
public OWU computers without asking someone in charge of the lab.
- Type in your home address to zoom to your home.
- Click the pushpin icon ("Add Placemark"): a window will pop up
and your located home will flash. Add a descriptive title, including
your name, in the name box, such as The childhood home of
Murph Gurfman. Hit OK to save the placemark.
- Right mouse click on your newly created placemark and select
Save as... and save the file (in KMZ or KML format) somewhere where
you can find it. If you don't have a right mouse button, from the File
menu select Save as... and then Save place as... to save the KMZ or
KML file. Email the file to your instructor, who is eagerly awaiting its arrival:
email@example.com. He will import
all the placemarks into Google Earth for a fabulous tour of homes in an upcoming
lecture. (to import a KMZ/KML file in Google Earth just select Open from the File
- For general information on Virtual Globes, and other free virtual
globes, see the Wikipedia entry on
- What's Due: Email me your home KMZ file
6. Purchaseable Mapping and GIS software
- You can purchase GIS software, from low-function upgrades to Google Earth
for $20 to ArcGIS, which can cost thousands of dollars for high functioning
- One (of many) lists of GIS software is maintained by the University of
Florida on their GIS Software
and Resources page.
- What's Due: Nothing for this part: just FYI.
Exercise 4: Sum:
- Please format your exercise so that it reflects the different sections
above. Include headers (eg., "1. Map Images: Static Digital Maps on the WWW:") before
each set of maps and answers. Turn in the 5 or so pages of typed answers to the questions,
and include all requested maps at appropriate locations (and appropriate size) in the document.
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