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Introducing Geographic Information Systems with ArcGIS

Introducing Geographic Information Systems with ArcGIS

Michael Kennedy

ISBN: 978-0-471-79229-1

Aug 2006

624 pages

Select type: Paperback

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A unique approach to learning and teaching GIS, integrating fundamental concepts with a practical applications workbook

Introducing Geographic Information Systems with ArcGIS® serves as both an easy-to-understand introduction to GIS and a hands-on manual for the ArcGIS® 9.1 software. This unique and exciting book is written by a leading author in the field with thirty years of experience developing successful books on computer software and GPS hardware. Each chapter presents two mutually supporting sections:

  • Overview—a discussion of theory and ideas relating to GIS, laying the groundwork for spatial analysis
  • Step-by-Step—instructions on how to use ArcGIS® software. There are sixty exercises and nine review exercises throughout the book, covering most of the topics students need to gain GIS jobs or continue work in GIS or GIScience

Complete with a CD-ROM containing data for working out all of the exercises, Introducing Geographic Information Systems with ArcGIS® features:

  • A wealth of project-oriented exercises that offers readers a practical approach to learning skills
  • An innovative Fast Facts approach that encourages readers to create their own reference manuals as they learn by working through the exercises
  • A step-by-step workbook that walks readers through setting up their first projects, adding data, performing analyses, and generating maps and reports

Introducing Geographic Information Systems with ArcGIS® is easy to read, informative, and entertaining, as it serves to present both the theory behind and the practical applications of GIS.

Related Resources





PART I Basic Concepts of GIS.

CHAPTER 1 Some Concepts that Underpin GIS.

You Ask: “What Is GIS About?”

You Ask Again: “What Is GIS About?”

Finding a Site by Manual Means.

More of What GIS Is About.

Next Steps: Seemingly Independent Things You Need To Know.

Determining Where Something Is: Coordinate Systems.

Determining Where Something Is: Latitude and Longitude.

Geodesy, Coordinate Systems, Geographic Projections, and Scale.

Projected Coordinate Systems.

Geographic vs. Projected Coordinates: A Comparison.

Two Projected Coordinate Systems: UTM and State Plane.

Physical Dimensionality.

Global Positioning Systems.

Remote Sensing.

Relational Databases.

Another Definition of GIS.

Computer Software: In General.

Computer Software: ArcGIS in Particular.

Developing a Fast Facts File for the Information You Learn.

Understanding the File Structure for the Exercises.

Getting Set Up with ArcGIS.

Looking at the ArcCatalog Program.

Anatomy of the ArcCatalog Window.

Setting Some Options.

The Catalog Tree.

Connecting to a Folder.

The Toolbars and the Status Bar.

Exploring Basic GIS Data Storage Models.

Exploring Data with ArcCatalog—Fire Hydrants in a Village.

Copying Data over to Your Personal Folder.

Examining the Table.

Deriving Information from the Table.

Sorting the Records.

Finding Values in a Table.

Identifying Geographic Features and Coordinates.

Looking at GeoGraphics.

Tics and Ticks: Tying Geographic Data to the Real World.

A First Look at Metadata.

Using ArcCatalog to Place Data in ArcMap.

A Look at Some Spatial Data for Finding a Site for the Wildcat Boat Facility.

Using the Area on the Disk for Your Own Work.

Copying Data over to Your New Folder.

Searching for GIS Data.

Exploring Soils.

But Something Is Missing.

Is the Newly Found Data Applicable?

Making a Personal Geodatabase Feature Class from a Coverage.

Looking at the Landcover Personal Geodatabase.

Further Examining the Wildcat Boat Facility Area Data Sets.

Looking at Wildcat Boat Data with ArcMap.

Seeing the Results of the Join.

Understanding the ArcGIS Help System.

A Button for Instant Help: What’s This?

The Help System and Documentation.

Using ArcCatalog for Mundane Operations.

Checking, Updating, and Organizing Your Fast Facts File.

What’s Next?

CHAPTER 2: Characteristics and Examples of Spatial Data.

The Original Form of Spatial Data: Maps.

Moving Spatial Data from Maps to Computers: Forces for Change.

Spatial Data.

Limiting the Scope.

Databases—What’s Meant by “Relational.”

Spatial Data for Decision Making.

Sets of Spatial Data: The Database.

Spatial Databases: Inherent Difficulties.

Information Systems.

Uses for a Geographic Information System.

Appreciating Geographic Space and Spatial Data.

ArcMap Toolbar Examination and Review.

Exploring Different Types of Geographic Data.

The Basic Difference Between ArcCatalog and ArcMap.

Exploring Data from the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS).


Seeing the GPS File in ArcMap.

Looking at the GPS Track in the Context of a Variety of GIS Data.

A Potpourri of Types of Geographic Data.

Displaying Layers from Vector-Based Data Sets.

Housekeeping: Saving a Map.

Selecting: Both Map Data and Attribute Data.

Using the Measure Tool.

County Boundaries.

TIGER/Line Files.

The Table of Contents: Display vs. Source vs. Selection.

A Look at Raster Data.

Digital Raster Graphics and Cell-Based Files.

Experimenting with Different Ways of Seeing the Data.

Digital Orthophotos.

More TIGER/Line Files.

Another Tie Between Attributes and Geographics.

More Housekeeping: Shutting Down and Restarting ArcMap.

Digital Elevation Model Files.

Comparing the DEM and the DRG.

Contour Line Files.

Triangulated Irregular Network Files.

TINS Are Three-Dimensional Data Sets.

Geodatasets of Soils, Rocks, and Land Use.

The Summarizing Procedure.

Some Geological Data.

A GRID of Land Use Data.

Next Steps on Your Own.

Checking, Updating, and Organizing Your Fast Facts File.

CHAPTER 3 Products of a GIS: Maps and Other Information.

GIS and Cartography—Compatibility?

Products of a Geographic Information System.

Overall Requirements for Utility.

Classification of GIS Products.

Documenting Products.

Thoughts on Different Types of Products.

The Data View and the Layout View.


Templates That Contain Data.

Controlling Your View of the Map: Zooming.

Understanding the Panning and Other Controls.

Adding Other Map Elements.

Data Frames.

Adding Data to Data Frames.

A Summary of the Graphic Indicators.

Tinkering with the Map—Scale Bars.


Looking at the Plethora of Mapmaking Tools and Options.

Making a Map of the Wildcat Boat Data Sets.

Enhancing Communication: Styles, Layer Files, Reports, Charts, and Graphics.

Layer Files.


Adding and Using a Style.




Making Graphics out of Geographic Features.

Checking, Updating, and Organizing Your Fast Facts File.

CHAPTER 4 Structures for Storing Geographic Data.

Why Is Spatial Data Analysis So Hard?

How the Computer Aids Analyze Spatial Data.

Complexity of Spatial Data.

Structures for Spatial Data.

Storage Paradigms for Areal Data.

Fundamental Bases of Geographic Data Models.

Raster Data Model.

Vector Data Model.

A Multiplicity of “Storadigms.”

Vector-Based Geographic Data Sets—Logical Construction.

Zero-Dimensional Entities in a Two-Dimensional Field: Points.

One-Dimensional Entities in a Two-Dimensional Field: Lines.

Two-Dimensional Entities in a Two-Dimensional Field: Polygons.


The Coverage Data Model in Detail.

Arcs, Direction, and Handedness.

Coverage Defined.

Coverages and Attributes.

Arcs and Linear Features.

Arcs Defining Polygons.

Arcs and Polygons Together.

Feature Attribute Tables.

Coverage Topology.

Other Tables Relating to Coverages.

Polygons Within Polygons—Perimeter and Area Calculations.

Coverage Topology—More Details.

Regions (in Coverages).

Coverages—Layout in the Computer.


The Geodatabase Data Model (Personal Geodatabases).

Geodatabases—Layout in the Computer.

Geodatabases—Logical Construction.

Geodatabases—Feature Shape.

Nested Polygons in Geodatabases.

Geodatabases and Attributes.

Geodatabases and Precision.

Objects—First Acquaintance.


Summarizing Vector Data Set Features.

Summary of Logical Structures of Vector-Based GIS Data Sets.

Raster-Based Geographic Data Sets—Logical Construction.

Raster-Based Geographic Data Sets—Layout in the Computer.


TIN-Based Geographic Data Sets—Layout in the Computer.

Spatial Reference.


Meet ArcToolbox.

A Look at Some Trivial Personal Geodatabase Feature Classes.

More Help.

A Look at Some Trivial Coverage Feature Classes.

Placing X- and Y-Coordinates in a Coverage.

Making an ArcInfo Coverage Named GENWARMUP.

The GENERATE Tool Input Text File Specification.

Creating the Coverage from the Text File.

Making a Folder Connection and Looking at the Coverage with ArcCatalog.

Building Node and Arc Topology.

Labeling Features.

Building Polygon Topology.


Areas and Perimeters.

Making an ArcInfo Coverage for a Foozit_Court.

Looking at the Coverage with ArcCatalog.

Creating Attribute Tables Using ArcToolbox.

Making an Olympic Foozit Court.

Seeing a Coverage with Arc Workstation.

Using the Workstation GENERATE Command.

Using the Generate Module to Add Features to Foozit_Courtn.


Examining the ArcGIS Coverage Directory (Folder) Structure.

Looking at the Association Between the Files in the Info Folder and the Coverages.

Understanding a Couple of Things That Don’t Look Right.

Geodatabase Topology.

Creating a New Topology.

What Moves When Features Are Adjusted: Rank.

Topology Rules.

Validating Topology.

A Warning: Changes Made Through Topology Are Permanent.

Checking, Updating, and Organizing Your Fast Facts File.

CHAPTER 5 Geographic and Attribute Data: Selection, Input, and Editing.

Concerns About Finding and Collecting Data.

Looking for Data on the Internet.

Steps in Developing the Database.

GPS and GIS.

Anatomy of the Acronym: “Global Positioning System.”

What Time Is It?

Looking at Areal Representations of the Real World.

Looking at Reference Systems.

Looking at Coordinate Systems.

Using the Reference System to Discover the Boundary Coordinates of a State Plane Zone.

Primary Lesson.

Looking at Geographic Data on the Web.

Digitizing and Transforming.

A Plan for Digitizing and Transforming.

Getting Started.

Loading an Image File as a Layer in ArcMap.

Loading the New, Blank Shapefile into ArcMap.

Adding Line Features to a Shape File by Using the Editing Facility in ArcMap.

Converting a Shapefile to a Geodatabase Feature Class and Giving It Real-World Coordinates.

Converting the Shapefile to a Geodatabase Feature Class.

Moving the Foozit_Court Feature Class into the Real World.

From Shapefile to Coverage to Real World to Geodatabase Feature Class.

Creating and Transforming a Coverage Based on a Shapefile.

Building Topology for the Coverage.

Verifying the Correctness of the Coverage.

Making a New, Blank Coverage, Called REAL_COV, Using the Tics of DIG_COV.

Updating the Coordinates of the Ticks in REAL_COV to “Real-World” Coordinates.

Transforming the Features of DIG_COV to Make REAL_COV.

Converting the Arc Component of a Coverage into a Personal Geodatabase Feature Class.

Digitizing Directly into a Real-World Coordinate System in a Geodatabase.


Making the Feature Class That Will Be Digitized into.


Moving the Sketch to UTM Zone 2.

Digitizing the Line Boundaries of the Islands.

Making Polygons of the Digitized Lines.

Making Multipart Polygons.

Merging Multipart Polygons.

Digitizing Geodatabase Polygons and Coping with Topology.

Making Copies of the Feature Class.

Using CLIP to Remove Overlaps from the Feature Class.

Using Topology to Remove Overlaps from the Feature Class.

Learning Some Editor Fundamentals.

The Concept of the Edit Sketch.

Making Sketches with Snapping.

Experimenting with Editing and Polygons.

Experimenting with the Editor’s Union.

Experimenting with the Editor’s Intersect.

Experimenting with the Editor’s Buffer.

Using Undo, Copy, and Cut.

Working with Editing Lines Again.

Adding the Sixth Island.

Creating a 3-D Feature.

Obtaining Field Data and Joining Tables.

A Discussion of the Project.


Environment and Measurements (Spatial Data).

Measurements (Nonspatial Data).

Recording Data.

Team Assignments.

Undertaking the Data Entry Process.

Making a Table That Will Contain the Student Data.

Populating the Student_Info Table with Data.

Joining the Two Tables to Make a Single Table.

Seeing the Results of the Join.

Checking, Updating, and Organizing Your Fast Facts File.

PART II Spatial Analysis and Synthesis with GIS.

CHAPTER 6 Analysis of GIS Data by Simple Examination.


Computer Hardware—What a Computer Does.

Continuous and Discrete Phenomena.

Some Implications of Discrete Representation for GIS.

Scientific Notation, Numerical Significance, Accuracy, and Precision.

Precision vs. Accuracy.

Basic Statistics.

Putting Values into Classes.

Measurement Scales.

Reviewing and Learning More of ArcMap.

Examining the Toolbars.

Pointing at Records.

Two Windows Are Available for Selecting.

Selecting Records (and, Thereby, Features) .

Looking at the Other Capabilities of the Options Menu.

Selecting Features (and, Thereby, Records).

Quick Selection of Features.

Selecting by Location.

Reviewing and Understanding Actions on the Table of Contents.

Layers and the Data Frames.

Changing Layer Properties.

Categorization and Symbolization.

Thinking About Maps Again.

Classification (or Categorization) and Symbolization.

User Selection of Classes.

A More Careful Look at Equal Intervals.

Defined Interval.


Standard Deviation.

Natural Breaks.


Using Charts and Graphs.

Making a Layout.

Comparing Data Sets: Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) and Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).

Geographically Comparing Two Data Sets.

Combining Demographic and Geographic Data.

Getting TIGER-Based Street and Block Shapefiles from ESRI.

Obtaining Data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

Converting the Data Spreadsheet to dBASEIV Format.

Assessing What We Have and What We Need to Solve the Problem.

Converting the Relevant Files to Cartesian Coordinates.


Determining Proximity of Points to Points and Lines.

Checking, Updating, and Organizing Your Fast Facts File.

CHAPTER 7 Creating Spatial Data Sets Based on Proximity, Overlay, and Attributes.

Generating Features Based on Proximity: Buffering.

Generating Features by Overlaying.

Overlaying with Line and Point Feature Classes.

Spatial Joins in General.

Deriving Geodata Sets by Selecting Attributes: Extraction.

Making a Trivial Buffer Around a Trivial Coverage.

Examining the TICTACTOEBUF Polygon Attribute Table (PAT) with ArcInfo Workstation.

Exploring PGDBFC Buffers with the Wildcat Boat Data.

Using ArcMap to Make Buffer Zones Around the Roads.

Variable-Width Buffers.

Overlaying One Coverage with Another Using UNION.

Making a New Coverage from a Subset of Polygons: Extract.

More Complex Queries—ANDs and ORs.

Other Spatial Joins: INTERSECT and IDENTITY.

Using Overlay with Trivial Point and Line Coverages.

Intersect and Identify Operations Used with Line Coverages.

Using Buffer and Overlay with Geodatabases.

The Getrich Saga.

Deriving Information by Combining Tables.

Overlaying the Feature Classes.

Building a Model of the Getrich Project Solution.

Making Buffers for Solving the Wildcat Boat Problem.

Finding a Site for the Wildcat Boat Facility.

Solve a Revised Wildcat Boat Problem.

Understanding Dissolve.

Making New Sites Including the COST_HA Field.

Considering the Eccentricity Criterion.

Making a Model of the Wildcat Boat Solution.

Checking, Updating, and Organizing Your Fast Facts File.

CHAPTER 8 Spatial Analysis Based on Raster Data Processing.

A Different Storage Paradigm.

Facts About Rasters.

Coordinate Space.

Rasters with Integer Cell Values.

Rasters with Floating-Point Values.

What Is Raster Storage and Processing Good For?

Rasters and Features.

Rasters: Input, Computation, and Output.

Where Raster Processing Shines: Cost Incurred Traveling over a Distance.

Proximity Calculation with Rasters.

Human Activity, Cost, and Distance.

Euclidian Distances on the Grid.

Euclidean Distance and the Spatial Analyst.

Proving Pythagoras Right.

Multiple Source Cells.

Finding the Closest of Many Source Cells.

Excluding Distances Beyond a Certain Threshold.

Other Factors That Influence Cost.

The Cost-Distance Mechanism.

The Cost-Distance Calculation.

Path Calculation in Euclidian Distance and Cost Distance.

Understanding How Total Costs Are Calculated.

Getting More Information: Paths and Allocations.

Direction and Allocation Grids for Euclidian Distance.

Direction and Allocation Grids for Cost Distance.

A Major Application of Raster Processing: Hydrology.

Basic Surface Hydrology.

How Spatial Analyst Performs Hydrologic Analysis.

Basic Surface Hydrology Concepts.

Calculating Flow Direction.

The Ultimate Destination of Water Is off the Raster Area.

Flow Accumulation: Drainage Delineation and Rainfall Volume.

Calculating the Length of a Potential Linear Water Body.

Assigning Identities to Streams.

Vector vs. Raster Representation.

Assigning Orders to Stream Links.

Watersheds and Pour Points.

Basic Raster Principles and Operations.

The Raster Calculator—Integer Rasters.

Arithmetic Calculation.

Boolean Operations.

Floating-Point Rasters.

Solving the Original Wildcat_Boat Problem.

Setting the General and Raster Environment.

Converting Features to Rasters.

Creating Rasters for Sewers, Streams, and Roads.

Buffering with Spatial Analyst (Maybe).

Buffering—Plan B.

Reclassifying the Data.

Adding the Rasters with the Raster Calculator.

Converting Zones to Regions.

Solving a Wildcat_Boat Problem with Different Requirements.

Making Surfaces with IDW, Spline, Trend, Nearest Neighbor, and Kriging.

Points and Density.

Thiessen, Voronoi, Dirichlet (and, of course, Decartes).

GRIDS: Distance and Proximity.

Making a Grid Showing Straight-Line Distances to a Single Place.

Examining Many Source Cells and the Capping Distance.

Developing a Grid with Cost Distance.

Creating Direction and Allocation Grids.

Using Cost Distance to Make Direction and Allocation Grids.

Calculating a Least-Cost Path.

Putting the Tools Together: Site a Regional Park.

Setting Things Up.

Preparing to Create a Cost Surface.

Building a Cost Surface.

Improving the Understandability of the Map.

Watershed Analysis.

Examining the surface with Various Spatial Analyst Tools.

Determining the Stream Channels.

Calculating Steam Order.

Numbering Each Stream Individually.

Identifying Basins.

Finding Pollution Culprits.

Checking, Updating, and Organizing Your Fast Facts File.

CHAPTER 9 Other Dimensions, Other Tools, Other Solutions.

Ignored Third Dimensions: The Vertical Spatial and the Temporal.

3-D: 2-D (Spatial) Plus 1-D (Spatial).



A New Software Package: ArcScene.

Experimenting with 3-D.


What’s 3-D and What’s Not.

Viewing 3-D Data with Animation.

Two-and-a-Half-D: Calculating Volumes.

Calculating a Volume with ArcGIS.

Other Neat Stuff You Can Do with 3D Analyst: Viewshed and Hillshade.

Adding Data to ArcGlobe.


3-D: 2-D (Spatial) Plus 1-D (Temporal).


Looking at Infrastructure Changes Occurring over Time.


A Second Fundamental Way of Defining Location.

TIGER/Line Files.

Precision of the Geographic Coordinates in TIGER Files.

Address Locators.


Experimenting with Addresses and Coordinates.

Finding the Geographic Position of an Address “Manually.”

Making an Address Locator.

Finding the Geographic Position of an Address “Automatically.”

TIGER Files and Zip Codes.

More to Know—More Information Available.

Experimenting with Routes and Allocations.

Finding the Shortest Route to a Facility.

Allocating Territories to Facilities.

Experimenting within Linear Features.

Intersecting Route Events.

What’s Not Covered Here.

Checking, Updating, and Organizing Your Fast Facts File.

Afterword: From Systems to Science.


"This book serves both as a general introduction to geographic information systems (GIS) and as a manual for a variety of functions of the ArcGIS Desktop applications. The exercises are full of useful, valuable hints and tricks that are not always found in other manuals and handbooks." (The Professional Geographer, May 2008)

"This practical step-by-step approach is actually very successful… I can recommend this book as an excellent reference…"  (Journal Of Sedimentary Research, May 2007)

Corrected File for Exercise 2-4
This file is in ZIP format. If your computer cannot open ZIP files, you can visit
A Vital CD Fix

Please download this PDF file to fix a problem with the CD included with this book.

ChapterPageDetailsDatePrint Run
A Vital CD Fix

A production error has resulted in a corrupt file on the CD for the Wildcat Boat Database (\IGIS-Arc\Wildcat_Boat_Data\Wildcat_Boat.mdb). It is reparable with two clicks of the mouse, but it is catastrophic to the database if not fixed.

For more information, see the PDF in the downloads section.

  • Up to date with latest release of ArcGIS 9.1
  • Project-oriented exercises enable the student to learn skills as needed rather than linearly or broken up into disjointed parts.
  • Innovative Fast Facts approach encourages students to create notes about what they've learned as they work through the exercises, enabling them to describe, in their own words, how certain functions are done for future reference.
  • Step-by-step workbook walks the user through setting up their first project, adding data, performing analysis and generating maps and reports.
  • Includes CD with data files from the exercises, workbook exercises with fill in the blank sections intended to help the students test their understanding of the software and applications, and concept summary Fast Facts files which the students can use in developing their own Fast Fact files.