Geographic Information Systems

Portland State Goes Enterprise-Wide with GIS

Portland State University is deploying a server-based geographic information system (GIS) to broaden student and faculty use of the technology. The Oregon university, which is a longtime user of ESRI's ArcGIS software, will now be running the company's ArcGIS Server.

A GIS is a program that lets the user manipulate data linked to a specific location. The server version of the ESRI software allows an organization to share mapping services and programs across the Web to multiple users. For example, a publicly available Web site in Oregon run on ArcGIS Server allows visitors to see where stimulus dollars are being spent in the state by county and category.

With an enterprise deployment, IT directors at Portland State anticipate that faculty will make greater use of GIS in classes such as environmental science, urban design, sustainability research, and urban and public affairs. Professors at PSU are already planning classes that make use of server technology for digital compilation and database design, Web GIS, public participation and GIS, cartographic applications, and creation of an American history syllabus for a local K-12 school district.

In addition, student interns will work alongside the university IT staff to implement and maintain the geospatial data servers.

"We see the adoption of Web-mapping technology through the use of ArcGIS Server as providing valuable skills to our students and strengthening the university's ability to serve our metropolitan and statewide communities," said Richard Lycan, professor emeritus of geography and urban studies.

"I applaud the expansion of GIS use throughout the Portland State campus," said Cy Smith, statewide GIS coordinator in Oregon. "It affords students the opportunity to develop important real-world skills, such as location-based analysis and the practical implementation and maintenance of server-based GIS. These skills are in demand by employers here in Oregon and throughout the country."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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