GEOG 311 - Geographic Data Mgmt

Winter 2013

Section 001: 640 SWKT on M W F from 12:00 pm - 12:50 pm

Instructor/TA Info

Instructor Information

Name: Brandon Plewe
Office Location: 672B SWKT
Office Phone: (801) 422-4161

TA Information

Name: Kimball Hansen
Office Location: GIS Lab
Office Phone: Cell: 480-415-6234 Lab Phone: 801-422-9447
Office Hours: Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri 12:00pm-2:00pm
Or By Appointment

Course Information


The focus of this course is on the data we use in GIS: where does it come from? how do we store it? how do we manage it? You will find that the vast majority of the time spent in GIS projects is in managing the data, and the more adept you are in this, the more efficiently you can get it done. As a secondary part of this course, it is important to know how these datasets are used, so we will be learning some basic manipulation and analysis tools, although not in as much detail as in Geog 412.

It is impossible in one semester to teach you everything there is to know about geospatial data. We will focus on some of the most common and interesting types and sources of data, and some of the most common technologies for managing them, but in your career, you will need to deal with situations that we don't cover. Therefore, one of the purposes of this class is to help you develop the intangible skills necessary to be successful, including: resourcefulness (finding what you need beyond a google search), critical thinking (especially in carefully evaluating and designing data), hard work (doing what is necessary to get the results you need), and lifelong learning (obtaining new knowledge and skills for new situations).

To accomplish these goals, you will be working on two projects: In the first half of the semester we will be building roads in Provo; In the second half, we will be mapping the BYU Campus. Neither of these will result in a single final product, but as we learn about various aspects of data management, we will produce a number of augmentations to these datasets.


Geog 212, or an equivalent basic introduction to GIS, is absolutely necessary.


Item Price (new) Price (used)

Learning Outcomes

Geographic Information Theory

Understand the fundamental concepts of geographic information, and use those concepts to explain the core data models and procedures of GIS.

GIS Database Design

Create new databases to fulfill a specific GIS need, selecting the appropriate data model (e.g., vector or raster) and data storage strategy (e.g., shapefiles, geodatabases), and designing the necessary layers and attribute tables.

Data Acquisition

Obtain existing GIS data that is appropriate for a given need, and transform existing data sets to fit into an enterprise GIS, using tools such as format conversion and reprojection.

Data Entry

Create new GIS data sets using appropriate source materials and technologies, such as CAD, surveying, GPS, and remote sensing.

Lifelong Learning

Learn new concepts and technologies as needed to solve novel GIS management problems, with minimal supervision, using a variety of information resources.

Geographic Problem Solving

Evaluate a given geographic task to determine how to solve it using geographic information systems.

Geographic Data Collection

Obtain or create the GIS data that is needed to complete a geographic task.

GIS Analysis Tools

Use the tools available in GIS software as part of an analysis procedure to correctly solve a geographic task.


Assignment Description

1b: Data Scavenger Hunt

Due: Friday, Jan 11 at 11:59 pm

Identify 6 possible sources of roads GIS data that covers the city of Provo. For each of these sources, provide evidence (probably a web page URL) that they have GIS data. Score them (out of 10) on what you would expect their quality to be (accuracy, currency, useful attributes); in one or two sentences (total, not each), describe your thought process for evaluating this. Investigate options for obtaining each one (no phone calls, please, just online), and describe how accessible each is. Based on this evaluation, which source would to pursue to obtain roads data for this class?

This should be less than a page, probably half a page. Just a bullet list of 6 items, and a paragraph or so of conclusion.

1a: Readings Part 1

Due: Wednesday, Jan 16 at 11:59 pm

For the first half of Project 1, you need to be familiar with all of the topics listed below. As you study, select one or two that you can study in more detail and contribute to

  • GIS File Formats ( and any of the pages linked therefrom)
  • Data Model (; needs to be less business-y, more GIS-y, but keep general database language)
  • Vector Data Model (the wiki has a page for vector graphics, but it is so non-GIS that it would probably be better to create a new page and link between them, then redirect "Vector" to the GIS one).
  • Raster Data Model (same as above)
  • Enterprise GIS (part of
  • Spatial Database (
  • Geodatabase (; because this is an Esri-specific term, it should focus on Esri Geodatabase models, and general info about spatial databases should be moved to the spatial database page, then link between them).
  • ArcSDE (
  • Shapefile (
  • Conflation (
  • Digitizing (; this page is totally non-GIS, so most of it should be removed and replaced with information about GIS digitizing)
  • Orthophoto (
  • TIGER (
  • OpenStreetMap (
  • The National Map (
  • Spatial Data Infrastructure (

To ground your reading and demonstrate your understanding, you need to contribute to the GIS Wiki about one or more of these. If you haven't already, create an account on You need to make a total of 5 points of high-quality contributions, selected from the following:

  • New page: 1 point for creating a new page (in addition to points for the content therein)
  • New text: about 1 point per sentence
  • New illustrations: up to 5 points for creating your own diagram or map (depending on complexity); 1-2 points for pulling in an existing map; be sure to include a caption and source where applicable.
  • Copyediting: 1 points per sentence-equivalent, like a dozen or so single word changes.
  • Reorganization: 1 point per minor change to organization, like deleting an unnecessary sentence or graphic or adding a heading; 2 points for major changes, like moving a paragraph from one page to another (be sure to tell me what you did, so I won't think you typed it yourself).

You are contributing to a public site that the entire geospatial community can read, so make sure your contributions are of the highest quality. I reserve the right to remove your edits if I don't think they live up to that standard. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Use Wikipedia formatting. The first paragraph should always start with a clear, concise definition of the term, with some summary information. All details should be below, organized under headings. Put in hyperlinks to other pages on the site as often as possible.
  • Use simple language. Write your text as if you are explaining it to a 212 student, especially the first paragraph. Don't try to sound academic.
  • Avoid plagiarism. Anything you write must be in your own words. If you pull in existing graphics, they must be clearly copyright free (not just fair use). If you create your own graphics, tell me so I don't think you copied them. You must cite your sources for text or graphics.
  • Use logical page breaks. Avoid making pages too long; if one section gets too long, consider moving it to a separate page (with a summary paragraph and a link in the original page).
  • Don't be vendor-centric. As much as possible, describe things in general terms, not in terms of Esri software, unless it is a Esri-specific page (like ArcSDE). It is often appropriate to have a section at the very end of a page that lists some vendor-specific implementations of the concept, with links to their web pages for details.
  • Don't downgrade the page. Many of these pages are already fairly mature. Don't add content just to fill the assignment; if you don't think you can significantly improve the page, work on something else.

To hand this in, do an online submission to this assignment. In the note section, tell me your username and a brief description of which page(s) you worked on and what you did.

1c: Data Download

Due: Wednesday, Jan 23 at 11:59 pm


In this exercise, you will get some experience downloading GIS data from the Internet and doing some basic preprocessing, including reprojection, data evaluation, and adding a new column to store a road classification. Before starting assignment, make sure you have a V: drive to save your data in, and have been assigned a portion of Provo (the exact tile boundaries can be found at q:\classdata\311\provotiles.shp). If the majority of a street segment is in your tile, you are responsible for that entire segment, to the intersection.

  1. Download the roads from the Utah County website ( using the "Shapefile Extractor Tool." Before extracting, be sure to select the roads in your tile (maybe a bit of a buffer for good measure), and only extract roads (not state roads).
  2. You will get a zip file, containing the roads shapefile files, which needs to be extracted (probably into a new folder you create on your V: drive).
  3. In ArcMap, load your new shapefile, as well as a basemap like "Bing Aerial Imagery" to make sure it is in the right place.
  4. Open the attribute table of the new layer, and familiarize yourself with the various attribute columns. In particular, four seem to have something to do with differentiating major and minor roads: CLASS, CFCC, ROADCLASS, and HWYTYPE. Using map symbology, attribute selections, and your kowledge of Provo, try to figure out what the codes in each mean. For each of the four columns, make a list of every value found in your file, and what you think each means.
  5. Let's say all of these are insufficient for what we need to do. Add three new columns for our system:
    • BYUCLASS: text, 10 characters
    • SPEED: short integer [speed limit in mph]
    • LANES: short integer [# of lanes]
  6. Start editing your roads file. First, delete any street segments outside of your tile. REMEMBER TO SAVE EDITS OFTEN!
  7. Fill in the three new columns for all your streets. You could use the existing columns from #6, a basemap like Bing Aerial, Google maps, and/or field work as sources. For lanes, count only through travel lanes, not turn lanes or center lanes. For BYUCLASS, use the following codes:
    • freeway: freeway
    • ramp: freeway ramp
    • arterial: a major highway across town or between towns (e.g., University Avenue)
    • collector: a major street with few stops and/or higher speeds (e.g., 7th North); usually has a light when they meet each other or arterials.
    • street: a normal public surface street
    • culdesac: the circles in the ends of dead-end streets
    • private: a street not owned/maintained by the government, or with restricted access (e.g., condo driveways, parking lots, the road up Rock Canyon)
    • gravel: an improved dirt road, open to car traffic
    • dirt: an unimproved dirt road, only passable to 4WD vehicles
  8. Hand in three simple maps: One color coded by BYUCLASS, one color-coded by SPEED, one coded by LANES (using width, not color), with a basemap in the background. It doesn't have to be pretty, just has to clearly show the different values (yes, include a legend). Also print out the answer to part 4.


1d: Conflating into geodatabase

Due: Wednesday, Jan 30 at 11:59 pm

For this assignment, you will be uploading your data into a common enterprise geodatabase, so that we all will have all of the roads in Provo.

  1. Complete the Esri Virtual Campus course (, "Getting Started with the Geodatabase." (Read the section on Mosaic datasets, but you don't need to do either of the exercises about mosaic datasets). Pass the quiz at the end and hand in proof (i.e.  the test score you see at the end or the certificate).
  2. In ArcMap (this will be easier if you start a new map), add the current version of the streets from the geodatabase. The connection is at q:\classdata\311\geog311_student.sde. In the project1 feature dataset you will see streets and tiles. Add both. Also add your own chunk of streets to the map, and an imagery basemap to make sure everything lines up.
  3. Set the symbology of the geodatabase streets according to BYUCLASS, with extra wide lines (this will help you check your work).
  4. Answer the following questions (post the answers with your results):
    1. What coordinate system is your roads tile currently in?
    2. What horizontal datum/ellipsoid is it?
    3. What coordinate system is the feature dataset on the geodatabase in?
    4. What horizontal datum/ellipsoid is it?
    5. What coordinate system/datum is the imagery basemap in?
    6. What coordinate system/datum is the data frame (your map display) in?
    7. Does everything line up on the screen?
  5. To load your data into the geodatabase, you will need to make sure the coordinate system is converted. Fortunately, as long as everything is defined correctly (i.e., #7 above is "yes"), it isn't difficult. Make sure that the coordinate system of the display (#6) is the same as the destination dataset (#1-2). If it isn't, set the data frame coordinate system to match.
  6. Start editing the geodatabase streets. Remember to save often!
  7. Paying very close attention to which streets from neighboring tiles are already in the geodatabase, select the streets from your tile that need to be imported. Copy them (ctrl-C or right click).
  8. Paste them (ctrl-V or right click). When it asks, be sure to place them in the geodatabase streets layer.
  9. Check the geodatabase streets to make sure they imported correctly. Save your edits.
  10. If there are any gaps with neighboring layers, streets that should be in your tile (likely due to the tiles datum problem in the last lab), you will need to copy those segments from the AGRC database directly into our geodatabase, and set the attributes as in the previous lab.
  11. Make a simple map showing your tile boundary and the geodatabase streets symbolized by BYUCLASS (imagery and your original streets tile not necessary). I should be able to see the streets from neighboring tiles as well (assuming they have already imported them).

So you will be handing in three things (paper or online): proof that you passed the Esri test, answers to the questions in step 4, and your final map.

1f: Readings Part II

Due: Friday, Feb 08 at 11:59 pm

Study the following topics, and contribute to the Wiki as described in assignment 1a:

  • Geocoding (
  • Topology (; the GIS part needs to be less Esri-centric, and more clearly tied to the mathematical definition)
  • Network Dataset (; too Esri-centric, but needs more detail about turntables, impedance, etc.)
  • Geometric Network (; needs to be rationalized with Network Dataset)
  • Network Analysis (I can't find a page on this; look hard, because there has to be something; don't get too deep here, only a brief overview of what is possible)
  • Linear Referencing (
  • Multiscale GIS (new page?)


1e: Digitizing edge-of-pavement

Due: Wednesday, Feb 13 at 11:59 pm


For this exercise, you will be digitizing a polygon version of the streets, what is commonly called "Edge of Pavement," using the latest aerial imagery as a background.

  1. Complete the "Editing Tutorial" found in the ArcGIS help, including exercises 1, 2, and 4. For proof of completion, hand in a printout of whatever you have on the screen at the end
  2. Load the streets and tiles from the geodatabase, as well as the new "eop" layer. Also add the latest HRO 2012 imagery from the imageserver at
  3. You will be responsible for the same street segments as before. We will digitize each street segment as a polygon, and each intersection as a separate polygon. The intersection will generally include the curves at each corner. A roundabout should be digitized in the same way, as a single object with a hole in it.
  4. Digitize all of the segments in your tile. Generally, you will use straight lines and circular arcs. Try to be as precise as you can, especially trying to match the exact curb location. Remember to save often.
  5. Check for topological errors, using the "Validate" buttons on the Topology toolbar. You can check as you go or after you're done. Correct any topological errors (yes, we will use this to check your work when grading). Don't worry about marking exceptions.

Hand in a map of your area showing the street lines and polygons, the latter color-coded by type. You don't need to show the photograph.

1g: Geocoding

Due: Friday, Feb 22 at 11:59 pm
  1. In ArcGIS, add q:\classdata\311\faculty.dbf and q:\utcounty\utahcounty.gdb\transport\roads_agrc
  2. Geocode the addresses in faculty.dbf, using the address locator at q:\utcounty\utahcounty.gdb\agrc_roads_all. Initially, you should get a match of 89%
  3. Using "review/rematch addresses," match the rest of them (about 220).  It will probably be helpful to go to "Geocoding options" and set the minimum candidate score to 50, but do not match to anything under 60%. Keep a log of the most common recurring problems
  4. There will be some that cannot be matched with any reasonable certainty. Print a list of these.
  5. Hand in a map of your matched points on the street network, your list of common problems, and your list of unmatched addresses.

Midterm Exam

Due: Monday, Mar 04 at 11:59 pm
This exam tests the concepts and skills you have learned while completing Project 1.

1i: Network GIS

Due: Wednesday, Mar 06 at 11:59 pm

In this lab, you will be building a network dataset from our provo roads

  1. In the ArcGIS desktop help, read the section on Network Datasets (under Extensions>Network Analyst)
  2. In your V: drive, create a new geodatabase called Provo. Inside it, make a feature dataset called roads. The Coordinate system should be NAD 83 UTM Zone 12
  3. Import the roads in Provo and Orem from q:\classdata\311\provorem.shp
  4. Add a column to this feature class called "time," as a floating point data type.
  5. In ArcCatalog or ArcMap, do field calculate on this column to estimate the travel time (seconds) from the SPEED (miles per hour) and Shape_Leng (feet) fields. Yes, you need to figure out the proper calculation, including unit conversions.
  6. Figure out how to model one-way streets (yes, it's in the help). Attribute Center Street in downtown Provo.
  7. Create a new network dataset, using both distance and time impedances. You want to use turns as well, but most of the settings can be left as default.
  8. Try a basic shortest route network analysis to see if it works.
  9. Create a turn dataset and add it to your network dataset.
  10. Create turn data for three intersections in Provo: University Ave & Center, 7th East and Center (the roundabout), and the intersections between them (with stop signs).
  11. Create a few routes that run through these areas to test your data. hand in the maps of your routes. Make sure I can see your digitized turns as well.



2a: Readings for Project 2

Due: Monday, Mar 11 at 11:59 pm

The topics to study and wikify for Project 2:

  • 3-D GIS (some things in; does it belong there?)
  • Temporal GIS (
  • Spatiotemporal Database (
  • CAD (
  • BIM (Building Information Management)
  • Global navigation satellite system (
  • GPS (
  • Differential GPS (
  • Terrain (
  • DEM (
  • Delaunay Triangulation (
  • TIN (Triangulated Irregular Network)
  • LIDAR (
  • Image Registration (
  • GIS Data Design (

2b: Database design

Due: Wednesday, Mar 13 at 11:59 pm

In our second project, we are building a GIS of the BYU Campus for use in space management. The university has to keep track of who (department) owns which rooms and other spaces on campus to schedule classes and manage utilities and such. We could even use it to help the poor freshmen find their way from one class to another.

In this assignment, you will create a logical model as an entity-relationship diagram representing the data pieces in this system. The entities that need to be included are:

  • Room
  • Building
  • Department
  • Course (i.e., Geog 311)
  • Section (i.e., Geog 311, Winter 2013 Section 1)
  • Professor
  • Student

Your model should represent the entities, their relevant property (hint: for a room, the room number, type of use, the seating capacity, and a polygon shape), the important relationships between them (hint: a room IS IN a building). On relationships, make sure you are clear on the direction and the cardinality of the relationship. If an entity is spatial, be sure to include a shape as a property. Because this is a logical model, not a physical model, you do not yet need to worry about keys and attribute data types.

2c: CAD Conversion

Due: Friday, Mar 22 at 11:59 pm

In this assignment, you will turn a CAD file of a small portion of the BYU Campus into usable GIS data.

  1. In ArcMap, load the file q:\classdata\311\campus_clip.dwg. Register it to the real world using the world file at q:\byu\byu.wld. Load an air photo or your road network to make sure it matches.
  2. In ArcToolbox, convert the lines to polygons (the tool is under Data Management > Features.
  3. You will be coding each polygon according to a Land Cover category (building, sidewalk, grass, etc.), so add an attribute column for this. You'll notice that there are situations with 2 categories (i.e., a sidewalk under an overhanging building), so add a second column for the "underneath" cover.
  4. Edit the polygon layer, and enter your codes. Be sure to be consistent. You will probably want to use some obnoxious symbology to tell the categories apart. You may need to do some minor editing, for example cutting a polygon that didn't get completely separated due to a topology error (trace the original CAD file for accuracy). If you aren't sure what something is, GO FOR A WALK. It's Spring!
  5. When everything is coded, create a better looking "campus map" symbology. Somehow, you will need to show the underneath cover too.
  6. Hand in a map of your land cover. Be sure to include a legend.

2d: Campus Buildings

Due: Monday, Apr 22 at 11:59 pm

In this project, you will be using SketchUp and ArcScene to build 3-D models of buildings on the BYU Campus. We'll throw a litte terrain mapping in there for good measure.

You can do whichever building you wish, as long as it is one of the major buildings (not the B-24 shed :-) ). 

  1. Go out and take several photos of all sides of your buildings; the best angles will show large parts of walls at multiple angles, and import these to your computer.
  2. Start Sketchup with a new model. You will probably be happiest if you use english units, and in the model properties, set the snapping distance to 6".
  3. Georeference ("geo-locate" in Sketchup-ese) your model. This will retrieve the necessary terrain and imagery.
  4. Draw the basic footprint and extrude it into a block
  5. Match each of your photos to the block model. Be very careful about creating the vanishing point lines and setting the scale, as this will effect your entire model.
  6. Using the photos, field measurements, and the building floor plans at, fill in the details. I do not expect you to do every doorknob or the interiors, but I want to see good architectural detail on the exterior, including things like columns, windows, and doors. You can either paste photo textures or use your own materials to make it look just right.
  7. Save your model to X:\Geog311; be sure to include the building abbreviation and your name in the filename. Also, Export your model to a Collada file (.dae) with the same name.
  8. Create a new multipatch shapefile in X:\Geog311 with the same name.
  9. In ArcScene, load the most recent imagery from Q:\utcounty\imagery\hro2012\12TVK440540.tif and the terrain from Q:\utcounty\natural\dem10m, and your empty shapefile.
  10. Set the base heights for the image to the DEM, so the image is in 3-D.
  11. Start editing your shapefile, and place your building (the collada file, not the sketchup file) in it. Save your edits.
  12. Export 3-4 scenes of your model on the terrain/image from different angles, zoomed in as far as you can to see the entire building. Print these out to hand in.
  13. For fun, if other people have uploaded theirs, load them all in to see more of campus!

Final Exam

Due: Tuesday, Apr 23 at 2:00 pm
Actually, a second midterm.

Point Breakdown

CategoriesPercent of Grade
Project 1: Provo Roads59%
Project 2: BYU Campus41%


Date Class Topics Assignments Due
Week 1
M Jan 07 Monday


W Jan 09 Wednesday

Principles of Data Management

F Jan 11 Friday

Data Sources

1b: Data Scavenger Hunt
Week 2
M Jan 14 Monday

Data Sources

W Jan 16 Wednesday

Download & Conversion

1a: Readings Part 1
F Jan 18 Friday
Week 3
M Jan 21 Monday
Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday
W Jan 23 Wednesday

Vector Data Models and formats

1c: Data Download
F Jan 25 Friday

Spatial Databases

Week 4
M Jan 28 Monday
W Jan 30 Wednesday

Coordinate systems

1d: Conflating into geodatabase
F Feb 01 Friday

Coordinate Systems

Week 5
M Feb 04 Monday


W Feb 06 Wednesday


F Feb 08 Friday

Raster Data Models

1f: Readings Part II
Week 6
M Feb 11 Monday


W Feb 13 Wednesday


1e: Digitizing edge-of-pavement
F Feb 15 Friday

Network Data Model

Week 7
M Feb 18 Monday
Presidents Day Holiday
T Feb 19 Tuesday
Monday Instruction

Network Data Construction

W Feb 20 Wednesday
F Feb 22 Friday

Multiscale GIS

1g: Geocoding
Week 8
M Feb 25 Monday

Linear Referencing

W Feb 27 Wednesday

Network Analysis

Midterm Exam Opens
F Mar 01 Friday

GIS Data Design

Week 9
M Mar 04 Monday

GIS Data Design

Midterm Exam Closes
W Mar 06 Wednesday
1i: Network GIS
F Mar 08 Friday

CAD Data

Week 10
M Mar 11 Monday

CAD Conversion

2a: Readings for Project 2
W Mar 13 Wednesday
2b: Database design
F Mar 15 Friday


Week 11
M Mar 18 Monday

Differential GPS

W Mar 20 Wednesday

Terrain Data Models

F Mar 22 Friday

Terrain Data Models

2c: CAD Conversion
Week 12
M Mar 25 Monday

Terrain Analysis

W Mar 27 Wednesday
F Mar 29 Friday
2013 BYU Easter Conference


Week 13
M Apr 01 Monday


W Apr 03 Wednesday
F Apr 05 Friday
Week 14
M Apr 08 Monday
W Apr 10 Wednesday

Ripping Web Data

F Apr 12 Friday

Temporal GIS

Week 15
M Apr 15 Monday

Temporal GIS

W Apr 17 Wednesday
Exam Preparation Days
Th Apr 18 Thursday
Exam Preparation Days
F Apr 19 Friday
Week 16
M Apr 22 Monday
2d: Campus Buildings
T Apr 23 Tuesday

Final Exam:

640 SWKT

11:00am - 2:00pm

Final Exam
W Apr 24 Wednesday

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