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Chapter 5 - Fundamentals of Geographical Information Systems

This folder includes the accompanying resources for the chatper. For full book details, see:


This chapter presents the main concepts and terminology that students are required to understand geographical information systems. The main data types are presented, along with a discussion of relevant issues such as accuracy and precision. A brief overview of the development of GIS is given along with a flavour of the main software available. Using QGIS, we demonstrate how to prepare and manipulate some example GIS data. Where appropriate, we highlight the main issues that need to be considered when using a GIS and agent-based modelling.

Tutorial / Lecture Slides

The lecture slides for this chapter are available here: Chapter5 Lecture Slides.

The accompanying tutorial is available here: Chapter 5 Tutorial. QGIS, the computer program that is used to do the spatial data preparation in this chapter, is extremely comprehensive. The tutorial here only scratches the surface of what it can do, and doesn't cover some of the basics. For users who are new to geographical information systems and QGIS in particular, we recommend doing this excellent tutorial written by Dr Nik Lomax first.

For readers who need to do more advanced spatial analysis or data preparation, we recommend they look at some more comprehensive tutorials such as:

Other Resources

Within this folder you will also find:

  • A simple NetLogo Model (ImportRasterSample) which demostrates reading in raster data and creating a landscape.
  • Data used for Performing Spatial Operations on the Uganda Example and the reuslting agent-based model.
  • Data used to add a new column to a attribute table that underpins a vector layer using QGIS based on Washington DC.