England Graduate Student James Hood Speaks to Faculty and Students

April 06, 2010

James Hood, a graduate student from the University of Exeter in England presented a seminar on Geographic Information System (GIS) technology on Monday, September 19.


Hood, who is working on his Ph D. in Geographic Information Science, presented his findings before faculty and students at the College.

Geographic information system (GIS) technology can be used for scientific investigations, resource management, and development planning. GIS is a technology capable of capturing, storing, analyzing, and displaying geographical data identified according to location.

For example, GIS might allow emergency units to easily calculate emergency response times in the event of a roadside accident. GIS, therefore, can reveal important new information that leads to better decision-making.

GIS can be used to emphasize the spatial relationships among the objects being mapped. While a computer-aided mapping system may represent a road simply as a line, GIS may also recognize that road as the boundary between a valley and an urban development.

'Modern geographic information systems suffer from a serious constraint,' said Hood. 'This constraint is that in a GIS any spatial feature must have a precise location, specified by precise coordinates. A spatial feature which does not have this cannot be entered into the GIS.'

Hood's goal is to extend the range of locational reference for GIS, making use of such 'in exact' referencing common to that what we use in ordinary speech.

'References such as 'somewhere in' or 'near' or 'just outside,' cannot be used as a reference because they do not link to regions that may be drawn out precisely on a map,' said Hood.

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