Help Desk

Information Technology

GIS (Geographical Information Systems) at Reed

What is GIS?

A geographical information system (GIS) is system designed to create, store, manage, display, and analyze spatial information. Spatial analysis and visualization can help uncover patterns that are not visible by other analytical or visualization methods.

For example, a GIS can help answer basic questions of site suitability (where is the best study area based on my criteria), look at data across space (is wealth equally distributed across Portland?), or more complicated questions (what is the best route to take, does proximity to a grocery store positively affect home resale value, etc). 

GIS software options and access

The two most common desktop GIS software systems are ArcGIS (proprietary, Windows-only) and QGIS (open source, free, cross-platform). Additional mapping and analytical tools are available online, including dropchop (a data-first GIS from the folks at CUGOS) and ArcGIS Online.

ArcGIS is available via the Virtual Computer Lab. For access to ArcGIS training materials and/or full access to ArcGIS Online, contact Instructional Technology Services.

Faculty -- and students conducting research projects for faculty -- may access ArcGIS in the mLab in the ETC. For faculty, CUS can install a keyless copy of ArcGIS on your Windows computer (or the Windows side of your Mac computer using Bootcamp).

Students are eligible for a free copy of ArcGIS for one year while they are enrolled in classes. (Non-students can purchase ArcGIS software through the ArcGIS for personal use program.)

GIS support and more information

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about GIS at Reed, please contact Instructional Technology Services