Monday, September 7, 2015

GGS 692: Web-based GIS

I've just started my Fall semester graduate GIS course at George Mason University, GGS 692: Web-based GIS. This program continues to be extremely rewarding and just what I was looking for in a graduate program, since I am learning real skills that allow me to apply my previous background in mathematics and computer science to solving "real world problems".

According the syllabus, this course will:
[P]rovide the students with the knowledge to curate, store, manage and query geospatial data by means of powerful database management systems. Moreover, to communicate the data, the students will learn how to build Web mapping applications on top of a database and so communicate and interact with the data using nothing more than a Web browser. The course will cover a variety of open source software packages for web mapping and will provide pointers to commercial solutions where appropriate.
The specific goals are
  • To enable students to develop a good understanding of the principles and techniques of spatial databases.
  • To design and build a spatial database.
  • To perform common various types of queries and spatial analyses.
  • To design, develop, and implement custom web mapping applications using open standards and open source software.
The course involves a large final project, which I hope to use to develop the Photovoltaic Viability Map web application that will allow Northern Virginia residents to look at their homes on a map and get information about the cost and benefit of putting solar panels on their roof.

The specific technologies we will be learning about include:
All of these are free software GIS tools, so I am delighted at the opportunity to be compelled to learn about them.  I will be adding Mapnik and GeoDjango to the list, since my goal is to learn to be a Python GIS web application developer.

Getting Started

I've already been learning some of these technologies as part of my previous two courses, so this semester the goal is to really begin to master them.  Since a geospatial database is something I'm going to need on a regular basis, I'm going to install PostGIS on an Internet VM that I already have available, so that I'll be able to connect to it whenever I need to.

Referring back to the post I made on July 8, PostGIS Installation, I ran:
$ sudo aptitude install postgresql-9.3-postgis-2.1
My July 9 post, Adminning a PostGIS Server, has details for setting up remote connectivity and creating a database, but I think before I do that I'll go through this tutorial:
to get a broader overview of PostreSQL administration.

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