Monday, July 7, 2008

At what cost? The Internet and GIS

Spatial Worlds website
Picture descriptions:
Left image: Central Park, New York on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Right image: Old and new in New York Harbour.

Adelaide, Australia: S: 34º 55' E: 138º 36'
During the early days of GIS implementation in schools the argument was often forwarded that we cannot do GIS because of the cost! Yes, there was and still is a cost to purchase excellent classroom GIS software such as ESRI ArcGIS. However as the Internet has grown and evolved there is a now a plethora of data, remote sensed images and even software available free to schools. All that is required to do GIS is an Internet connection (preferably fast broadband to handle large downloads and images) In fact there is nothing stopping a teacher using GIS in their classroom if they have access to the Internet and some time to learn to use the free software and develop classroom activities around the free maps and images. This posting aims to provide some useful sites for the teacher wanting to use GIS with the minimum of expense.

An excellent spatial technology overview blog containing free GIS, map downloads, GIS/GPS tuition, GIS news, RSS feeds and much more at

For links to free GIS software go to the previous Spatialworlds posting titled 'Webmapping: GIS on the Internet' at

The earth from above! Understanding and viewing satellite images
Some great use of satellite images from the USGS at:

NASA satellite tracking in real time at:

An article on the NASA's Earth Observatory site at
The article looks at the development of higher resolution satellite imagery enabling more detailed images of cities at night. Not only is this is a good article on the development of spatial technologies, but it also provides excellent images and explanations of the world's cities at night. An excellent resource for a unit on transport routes.

Some great images of Cities at Night can be found at
Subscribe to the site for updates, as most news and images are relevant to all units of Geography.

Blue Marble: Next Generation was a project by the Earth Observatory that aims to "provide a detailed look at an entire year (2004) in the life of our planet". Images were taken each month. -

The magic of data and space

NationMaster is a massive central data source and a handy way to graphically compare nations. NationMaster is a vast compilation of data from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, UN, and OECD.

Geo-Data and GIS
This is the place to find data projects and GIS information. For example, weather data projects, development data as well as digital maps and ideas for the use of GIS.
FreeGeo-data city data download at

National Geographic EarthPulse website
Maps on the Human condition, nature and connections. Some interesting opportunities for correlation of data

Health and GIS from the UK
Investigating the health of a nation, a city, a locality. The website activities uses geographical health data to show distribution and ask questions on health in an area.

Maps and globes
A site providing free world maps and images of the earth from space

Discussion starters using data

World rich list
Every year we gaze enviously at the lists of the richest people in world.
Wondering what it would be like to have that sort of cash. But where
would you sit on one of those lists? Here's your chance to find out.

Ecological footprints