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GIS and GPS on-line course offered at UMFK

December 20, 2007


The University of Maine at Fort Kent will offer an on-line course entitled GIS and GPS for Public Safety Professionals in the spring 2008. Classes will begin Wednesday, January 23, 2008.            

The course provides an introduction to the theory and application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for public safety. The classes will be taught by Professor Dave Hobbins. He will speak on geographic theory; terminology and concepts; focus on policing; crime; emergency services and emergency management.             

The course is offered for Criminal Justice and Public Safety Administration students or professionals within those fields.            

 Hobbins will introduce the principles of geography, geographic information systems, the global positioning system, digital cartography, and their applications. The focus will be on topics related to public safety.              

According to Hobbins, “GIS is revolutionizing our society.  Within hours of the Pacific tsunami of December 2004, there were satellite images available.  People with GIS skills were able to access that data and to evaluate its impact and damage.  Currently, the City of Hartford, Ct. Fire Department uses GPS, GIS and related technologies to fight fires more effectively.  Each fire truck can see itself on an aerial photo.  They can click on a building on the map and access critical information about its residents or hazardous materials.  The supervisor can see the entire area with a daylight view and can quickly select staging areas and more quickly organize his or her attach plan.  On-line maps using GIS are already in wide use and their application in public safety will only continue to grow.”              

Students interested in the course must have internet access and Word or WordPerfect, as well as other specific computer requirements.              

GIS and GPS can be used to map and analyze data such as accidents or crime, emergency preparedness and response, as well as many other valuable public safety applications. Knowledge of GIS will make the student a more valuable employee. In addition to hands-on experience, the student can apply GIS and GPS on the job to collect data, map events and study their impact or importance.                          

When a student completes the course, they will have gained an understanding of basic GIS and GPS terminology and concepts; develop a spatial perspective; understand the basic tenants of geography and an understanding of the concepts of scale, distance, direction and area; and be able to apply it to GIS.

Students will be able to understand the importance and use of coordinate systems and map projections in GIS;  how GIS and GPS technologies can be applied in public safety and understand one’s ethical obligations in relation to spatial data collection, use and dissemination.

The course also will enable the student to know how to import GPS and other data sources into GIS; how to create and update a spatial database; and how to download GIS data on-line.

It will enable the student to be able to complete basic ArcGIS operations, including information extraction; understand the data needs of emergency management applications; be able to evaluate the quality of GPS and GIS data; gain a basic understanding of spatial database analysis and the ability to evaluate the quality of a map product; and create a quality map product.

To register, call the registrar’s office at 834-7520. For more information about the course, contact Don Eno, at 834-7835.