ArcGIS for Desktop

Facts

Name: ArcGIS
$: Varies
Example: Roma, Forced Evictions and Segregation in Italy (featured map by Angela Chang)
Level: Intermediate to Advanced depending on project complexity
Use For: Visually representing research; Conducting geographic analysis


About

ArcGIS can be used to edit and analyze geographic information as well as generate a wide variety of static maps. Lincenses for ArcGIS start at $1,500. ArcGIS contains multiple applications. The main application is ArcMap which is used for mapping, editing, and analyzing 2D data. ArcGlobe and ArcScene are both part of the ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension and are used with 3D data. ArcCatalog is used primarily for data management. Using ArcGIS requires an advanced level of understanding, however there is a very comprehensive help library. The software is compatible with a variety of geographic information files.

Mapping

At its most basic level geographic files can be layered on each other to produce a map. The user can choose the symbology that is used, what aspect of the feature is visualized, and whether features are labelled. The user can choose the zoom level of the map. There are various items that can be added to the map, including a scale, title, and legend. The map can be exported as a PDF, JPEG, TIFF, and more.

ArcGIS2

Editing

The user can add new features to shapefiles and geodatabases or add information to the attribute table which describes features in a file. The user can also create new files and add geographic information to them by drawing features or importing data from a GPS device. There are many ways files can be edited, including converting files to different projections and creating new files from selected information in a different file. Files that have been edited can be used to create maps using ArcGIS for Desktop or uploaded to ArcGIS Online.

Geoprocessing

ArcGIS also has a wide variety of tools that allow the user to manipulate and analyze the geographic information. Some of the tools include:

If a large amount of tools need to be used or an operation needs to be performed on a large number of files ModelBuilder or Python can be used to create a tool that will perform the necessary steps.

Advertisements

Google Products Overview

Google Maps

Google Maps is free and allows the user to choose from a variety of basemaps, upload files, and draw features onto the map.

Google Maps Engine

Google Maps Engine is similar to Google Maps but it has more capabilities and is not free. Google Maps Engine can support a wider variety of file uploads, more complex maps and has more sharing options.

Google Earth Pro

Google Earth Pro is the paid version of Google Earth. Unlike Google Maps and Engine it uses high quality satellite imagery and 3D imagery. The user can create maps, model new buildings, and create a video of 3D imagery.

Google Earth Tourbuilder

Google Earth Tourbuilder is free and uses Google Earth imagery to allow the user to create a tour.

Google Crisis Response

Google Crisis Response responds mainly to natural disasters. Often Google Crisis Response will have a resource page and host a crisis map with information from authorities and the crowd. Google Crisis Response also has a variety of products for responders.

Quantum GIS (QGIS)

Facts

Name: QGIS
$: Free
Example: Overcrowding in Cambodian Prisons (featured image by Mathieu Pellerin), Documented Kidnappings in Mexico, Al-Shabaab Attack Kenya
Level: Intermediate to Advanced depending on project complexity
Use For: Visually representing research; Conducting geographic analysis


About

QGIS can be used to edit and analyze geographic information, as well as generate a wide variety of static maps. QGIS is a free, open source software that supports vector data, raster data, GRASS data, and online spatial data. There are a variety of plugins that expand on the features listed below.

Mapping

At its most basic level QGIS can be used to layer geographic files on each other to produce a map. The user can choose the symbology that is used, what aspect of the feature is visualized, and whether features are labelled. The user can choose the zoom level of the map. There are various items that can be added to the map, including a scale, title, and legend. Other mapping projects can also be embedded into a map. Screenshots of the map or layer can be saved as georeferenced images.

QGIS3

Editing

The user can create and edit shapefiles and GRASS vector layers. These files can be reprojected as needed. The user can also import data from GPS tools or use OpenStreetMap data. QGIS has tools to help the user manage attribute tables and spatial database tables. Edited files can be exported in several formats.

Analysis

QGIS is able to conduct vector analysis, sampling, geoprocessing, geometry and database management. The GRASS Plugin and the Processing Plugin give the user access to a wider variety of geoprocessing tools. For more information about GRASS GIS click here.

Google Earth Pro

Facts

Name: Google Earth Pro
$: 399.00 per year per user
Examples: Roma in Italy (featured image), Eritrea’s Forgotten Prisons Exposed
Level: Intermediate
Use For: Visually representing research; Spatial Analysis


About

Google Earth Pro allows the user to use Google Earth imagery to create maps, videos and conduct spatial analysis. Google Earth Pro costs $399.00 per year per user, however Google does have a grants program for schools and nonprofits. Google Earth Pro has many features, such as importing GIS data, map making, and creating movies, that are unavailable with the free version of Google Earth.

Maps:

Google Earth Pro allows the user to create maps in a variety of ways. The user can draw polygons, lines, points, and paths into Google Earth directly or the user can upload a variety of files including Shape and KML files. Images can be uploaded and set to overlay Google Earth’s imagery. Google Earth Pro has a tool to import CSV spreadsheets to allow for easy mapping of Geocoded data.

Google Earth Pro

Once the data has been mapped it is possible to change the color, title and other attributes of the data set. To finalize the map the user can add a legend, directional indicator, scale and title. Maps can be printed, saved as an image or PDF, or exported as a KML.

Information and Modeling:

Google Earth Pro allows the user to measure distances and areas. This tool can be used to determine the size of a refugee camp or prison that a researcher cannot visit. It can also be used to determine the distance of a location from critical resources like water or food. Google Earth Pro takes advantage of Google Earth’s 3D imagery, allowing the user to determine the line of sight from a location and model 3D buildings. Google Earth Pro also has pre-made maps that display demographic and traffic count data.

Video:

Google Earth Pro allows the user to record and save 3D viewer imagery. This imagery can be published to a website or used in a video. Eritrea’s Forgotten Prisons Exposed demonstrates how imagery from Google Earth Pro can be incorporated into a video to give the viewer a sense of a location that is inaccessible to camera crews.