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Introduction to GRASS, an Open Source GIS
Schuyler Erle, MetaCarta
Rich Gibson, Chief Scientist, Locative Technology

Track: Emerging Topics
Date: Friday, July 30
Time: 11:35am - 12:20pm
Location: Salon I


Human beings are born storytellers. A common element in nearly every story we tell, about ourselves or about the world, is the idea of location -- for when things happen, they always happen somewhere. Recent advances in wireless networking and mobile computing demand new tools for querying and analyzing the ever-expanding sources of geographic data. We will start our tutorial with an introduction to basic cartography, and to the idea of geographic information systems (GIS). We will discuss basic spherical trigonometry, coordinate systems, reference datums, extents, layers, and review basic GIS data models.

Often, communities who have stories to tell that would benefit from the application of geographic tools lack the substantial sums of money ordinarily required to invest in contemporary commercial geographic information systems, and it is for this reason we turn to open source software and freely available data as means by which communities can develop applications and freely benefit from each other's.

Primarily, our talk will be about the Geographic Resources Analysis Support System, or GRASS, the leading open source geographic information system. We will show by example how GRASS can be used to import, analyze and make maps from raster, vector, and site data sources. We will review the use of TIGER/Line data, digital elevation models, aerial and satellite imagery, election and demographic data, and more.

We will consider government sources of data, contrasting the US versus Europe, and delve into building your own sources of data. We will review GPS technology in depth, and discuss making maps from your own GPS tracks. Additionally, we will review tools for building and analyzing wireless community networks.

Throughout, we will seek to focus on how you can get started using GRASS to do the analysis and make the maps that tell your stories. Bring your ideas, and let's discuss them!

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