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Thread: Importance of GIS in urban planning?

  1. #1
    Jan 2006
    Toronto, Ontario

    Importance of GIS in urban planning?

    Basically, I was wondering how important GIS is in urban planning and whether or not it's worth learning on my own, as I'm already to deep into my undergrad degree (3'rd year) to learn it in school and really don't want to spend too much money on it considering how much I've already spent on university.

    Also, my school lets me use their ESRI software even though I'm not in any classes for it, so I'm trying to learn how to use the programs on my own within the next year. Do any of you have any advice about what books to read to help me learn the software. I'm especially looking out for books with exercises/tutorials that are similar to courses.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Feb 2003
    Whether an individual planner will use it or not depends on their job, I expect some here use it daily and others do not use it at all. But to the overall field of planning GIS is invaluable. It takes planning to a new level of possibilities. Learn as much as you can, it is the future and not just for land use, but for all of planning (even policy making) as GIS is more than maps, it is a scientific statistical research tool.

    Also, there is more than ESRI!. I recommend at least one class, even if you cant count it, in order to fully see what it is capable of doing. It would be money well spent... then get the learn your self books (ps I cant recommend any books because I have yet to run across one I will reccomend, the ones I have seen have been 'point and click' glorified electonics instruction manuals... which is why I recommend a class to really hear & see what it all there).
    Last edited by H; 14 Apr 2006 at 12:51 AM.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Sep 2001
    skating on thin ice
    The most important part of GIS is not knowing how a prgram works(ie coding/programming), but being able to understand what it really is and how it works (aspatial dataset connectivity to spatial data sets) and using this knowledge to explain to your technicians what you want (make me this map showing the relationship between x,q,r and provide me these tables so I can examine them).

    So, if you can take an intro to GIS course (usually available as an alternatiive or supplement to cartography) then go do it, but don't expect to become a power user or expect to need to be a power user, unless you want to be a tech.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  4. #4
    Mar 2005
    I find it very important to my career.

    The last city I worked for (250k) had their own GIS section within the Planning Department. They canned all the maps for us and we had to do very little mapping on our own. Even when we made a map it was canned for us. Now that I work in a smaller city (20k) I am the only one who has GIS or knows how to use it. After working in a department that didn't allow the planners to actually use GIS in it's raw form, I lost a lot of what I had learned in school. So I had to re-learn a lot of it once I started in my current job (and there's still a lot for me to learn). But I am glad I am able to use it pretty well now and we contract with the county GIS department so they can help me when I need it. The Mayor calls me for maps, other departments call me for maps. I have a corner on the market here and know that I will always be valued for my ability to put maps together.

    So I think it's very valuable. There are a lot of people who don't know how to use GIS, and I like having the skills available to provide added value for my employer and make sure I am always "needed". lol

    I don't know about learning it yourself through a book; I know I couldn't learn it that way. Is there another student who could show you how it works? The best way for me to learn it was to make a few maps. Do you have a class that you're doing site plans for, etc? You could "wow" your prof. by illustrating/layering in GIS.

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