First to know is that GIS stands for Geographic Information System. GIS offers a compelling and powerful approach to exploring our world. At UC San Diego GIS is used in over fifty departments ranging from archaeology to economics, oceanography to family medicine.
Working with GIS involves using specialized software to display, analyze, and organize information, often using maps or other visual displays, in addition to helping manage data.
If you are curious to learn more about what GIS is, talk with us in the Data & GIS Lab. We're happy to tell you about what GIS can do for you and how GIS can be applied specifically to your own work!
The Lab has numerous options for learning the basics as well as resources for more advanced GIS help, including:
A good way to start is to incorporate GIS into a project for a class or work. The Lab offers students free (yes, free!) copies of ArcGIS software, and free online courses to all members of the campus community.
To get started with learning GIS, take a look at our website, ask us or email us!
If your question isn’t in this FAQ, don’t fear! We’ve got plenty of additional resources.
A good place to start is the Desktop Help in ArcMap. Go to the Index tab and search for a description of what you’re trying to do, and read through the top few recommendations. If you can’t find it in Help, another good source is the ESRI website.
You can also try looking in our reference collection. GIS Tutorial is a good starting point, and the ArcGIS help manuals are full of useful information also.
And those of us who work in the Lab are always available to help as well!
Great! Once you’ve learned the basics of ArcMap, using it in a project is a great reinforcement of the skills you’ve built.
Here are a few things to think about...
The Lab staff is always here to help with your GIS needs. If you run into problems, please ask!
The latest release of the Arc GIS Desktop suite of software is version 10.2.2. You can tell what version of the Arc software you are using when you start up and the splash screen reads “ArcGIS 10.2.2” for example.
Files created and saved in 10.2.2 will not open in any previous version. However, files created in older versions of the software will open in new versions. For example ArcGIS 10.2.2 will open your map saved in ArcGIS 10, but not the other way around.
Know what version you have used to create your files!
The Lab offers six GIS-equipped terminals.
Logging on: The first step is to turn on the computers and monitors. Lab computers are password-protected; please contact Lab Staff or the Research Assitance Desk or the Information Desk near the front of Geisel to get the username and password.
Logging off: To reduce energy costs, we ask that you shut down the computers and monitors when you are finished with your work.
Also, please help keep the Lab clean by taking out everything that you brought in, including coffee cups, trash, papers, and USB drives!
The short answer is no. The computers in the Lab share an internal network, but do not connect to the ACS or other UCSD networks.
This means that you have to bring all the documents and data you need for your GIS work on some sort of media.
We suggest using a flash drive (2GB or larger), but other less than optimal options include CD/DVD-ROMs and emailing your files to yourself.
You’ll also want to have media to save your GIS work to as the Lab does not offer secure, long-term file space.
You may save your work in progress on the “D:/” drive, but don’t expect it to stay there long! We erase data and files on the D drive at least once every other week, and sometimes more frequently.
The best way to store your maps and data is on portable media, such as a flash drive or writeable CD. We recommend that you have at least 2GB (though 4GB is better) of storage space for a typical GIS project.
No! Like all the other information in the UCSD Libraries, the GIS data is subject to copyright laws and limitations on usage.
Our GIS data comes from a variety of sources. Specific restrictions can be found in each layer’s metadata. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to read the metadata for each data layer so that you can respect the license restrictions on the data, understand its unique spatial and attribute characteristics, and give proper attribution to the data provider.
In no case shall any of this data be used by anyone not a part of the UCSD community, nor shall any of this data be used for a commercial purpose. There may be additional restrictions on data as noted in the metadata for each data layer, and you can read the ‘Important Notes re UCSD Data Server’ document on the X drive for further details.
If you have any questions, please contact Michael Smith, GIS Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The library’s collection of GIS data is stored on the X drive. The X drive can be accessed from all GIS terminals, BUT not from the SuperStation or DataCruncher or on computers from outside the GIS Lab, including personal laptops.
We have an extensive amount of basic GIS data, including countries, provinces, cities, roads/highways, and water. The most commonly used data sets can be found in a ready-to-use format on the X drive.
If you are away from the Lab, you can perform a “form/genre” search of the UCSD Library catalog for ‘gis data’ to see if we have the data you are interested in.
Additional data is available on the Lab’s collection of CDs and DVDs, and in numerous locations on the Web. Just ask the GIS Lab staff for help!
Sometimes, upon logon, the X drive does not appear in My computer and you cannot access any of its files through the ESRI Arc Suite.
To remedy this go to My Computer. Click Tools, and from the pull down select Map Network Drive. In the new window that appears Choose X: for the drive letter. Type in darry.ucsd.edugisdata for folder. Check the box for “Reconnect at logon” Click Finish.
If you are prompted to enter a user name, it is gis . If you must enter a password, use the same password you used to logon to this lab machine.
Now you are connected to the X drive. Remember you may need to Connect to Folder in the Arc software to view the files. This is the icon:
While we have a good set of GIS data, chances are we may not have the super specialized information you are looking for... (but be sure to look in the X drive, the Lab’s collection of CD/DVD resources, search the Library catalog, or ask, because we just may!).
Other places to look for data include the US Census Bureau, Federal, state, and county agencies, as well as statistical bureaus of many nations.
There are many many other places to look for resources to find your data. Just ask...oh, and we can also help you use this data in ArcGIS. :)
Great! The easiest way to do this is to join it to an existing geographic data layer, but you have to do a few things first...
The “Tips” binder contains a specific, step-by-step walk-through. Always feel free to ask us if you have trouble!
First, don’t panic! Then, see these help...
The easiest way is to store your map as an image file. Here are the basic instructions:
Yes...but only if it has a GIS component!
We absolutely encourage the use of GIS in your presentations and projects and we are even happy to print your map on our big 42” plotter for posters and displays.
You need to send an email to Mike at email@example.com with the poster as an attachment. Please provide sufficient lead time so that the poster can be printed, proofed and ready for you by your deadline.
We’d also appreciate it if you let us display a copy of your work here in the Lab!