My name is Juan Paulo Ramírez and I am a research specialist with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center. I use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for project evaluations which have included a broad variety of applications both in the social and physical sciences. Recently a lot of interest has been concentrated on geographic visualization, in particular the integration of geobrowsers like Google Earth with commercial GIS software such as ArcGIS and others. This allows distributing GIS data to many who would not necessarily use GIS software but are consumers of geospatial data. The good news is that the use of GIS software and the data associated to it has become easily accessible to the evaluation community at a very reduced cost and sometimes with no costs at all!
Hot Tip: Check out the YouTube videos posted by ESRI, the California based enterprise that created ArcGIS. Search for “ESRI TV.” If you are a neophyte to GIS and in particular to the ArcGIS family, these tutorial videos will save you thousands of dollars in training. Even if you have experience in using ArcGIS, these tutorials will demonstrate new tricks that will enhance your analytical capabilities. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=esri+tv&aq=f
Cool Trick: The newest versions of GIS software, including ArcGIS, have incorporated exporting features for Google Earth format files, known as “KML” format. This will allow you to distribute your GIS information (points, lines or polygons) along with databases to your stakeholders, colleagues, and community in general who do not have GIS software. The only requirement is that your recipients must install the free version of Google Earth in order to read KML format files, and the geobrowser will automatically display all the geospatial information and associated databases that you sent to them (i.e., attached in a e-mail). To see the new features of Google Earth, check: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSuJq4UzkIA
Rad Resource: Want to learn more about GIS and spatial visualization? The following book explores the theory behind geographical visualizations, including examples of map animation, and geovisualization tools, and provides insights to the future development of geographic visualization: Dodge, M., McDerby, M., & Turner, M. (Ed.). (2008). Geographic visualization: Concepts, tools and applications. West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Want to learn more from Juan Paulo? He is offering a Coffee Break Webinar on Using Google Earth for Evaluation: Applications in Environmental Evaluation and Beyond this Thursday. This is free for AEA members and a paid pass is available for nonmembers. Learn more athttp://comm.eval.org/EVAL/coffee_break_webinars/Home/Default.aspx