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It's Not Rocket Science, It's Geographic Information Science

New Center Plans to Raise Campus GI Science IQ with Low-Cost Classes and Support Services

by Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs
posted October 21, 1998

Instructors Maria Cacho, left, and Patty Frontiera assist College of Environmental Design graduate student Malcolm McDaniel in GISC's three-hour course "Managing a GIS Project."

It's called geographic information science, and a decade from now "it will be ubiquitous in our lives," predicts John Radke, director of the GISC, a new campus center that opens formally Nov. 2-5

Geographic information science is a relatively new field that provides sophisticated tools for capturing, encoding, storing, analyzing, retrieving, synthesizing and disseminating data about places.

"Everything has a location in space," explains Radke, who was a dual appointment in the College of Environmental Design. By encoding that information using GI science, it is possible to solve a myriad of problems -- from predicting the spread of a disease or a pollutant to mapping fire hazards, assigning classrooms or planning events.

Says Radke, "If I give you 10,000 numbers on a sheet of paper and ask you to try to make sense of it, you can't. If those numbers have the added dimension of space, the task is even more difficult. GI science can help synthesize these numbers," he says. "It is a powerful database manager, and it's graphic and spatial."

Established earlier this year by Chancellor Berdahl, the center's mission is to raise the level of GI science expertise on campus. It currently has two facilities -- at 212 Wurster Hall and 124 Mulford -- where faculty, students and staff can get low-cost training on spacial data structures, global positioning systems, digital remote sensing and other GI science topics. Two more satellite labs will open in 1999.

"Other universities have created GIS growth bowls, spent $3-$4 million, and built icons," says Radke. "This is the first time it's being done with a grassroots structure."

Faculty, organized research units, administrators and students will have access to specialized software and can get support in the use of GI science tools.

The center's formal opening will feature a series of informative lectures and symposia by world renowed experts in the field (see sidebar).

For information on the center see


GISC Opening Events, Nov. 2-5

Featured Event:

Jack Dangermond, President of ESRI: "GIS, A Cross-Cutting Science Technology"
Wed., Nov. 4, 7 p.m. 112 Wurster

Dangermond's lecture will be followed by a panel discussion including Michael Goodchild, Director of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis; and Professor Emeritus Ian McHarg. Refresments in the Wurster Hall lobby will follow.

Also Featuring:

Ian McHarg: "The 21st Century"
Mon., Nov. 2, 7 p.m., 112 Wurster Hall

Michael Goodchild: "Challenges in Geographic Information Science"
Tue., Nov. 3, 7 p.m., 159 Mulford Hall

Brown Bag Lectures: noon-1 p.m.

John Landis: "California Urban and Bio-diversity Model"
Mon., Nov. 2, 203 Wurster Hall

Peng Gong: "The development of Photo-ecometrics"
Tue., Nov. 3, 240 Mulford Hall

Bob Twiss: "Applications in GIS in Planning over 30 years"
Wed., Nov. 4, 203 Wurster Hall

Tom Duncan: "Museums and Geographic Information Science"
Thu., Nov. 5, Krouzian Room, Bancroft Library


All events are free. For information contact Rain Simar at 643-3227 or email


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