Urban geographic information systems : the city of Berkeley Pilot GIS

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för naturgeografi och ekosystemvetenskap

Abstract: Of all information gathered and maintained by a small municipality, in this case the city of Berkeley, California, the percentage that is somehow geographically related is usually very high. The key to an efficient land management and analysis system is to link information gathered by a municipality's administration to its actual geographic locations; locations that together form the complexity of a municipality. The purpose of this project was to create a low-budget, but still robust small municipality Geographic Information System (GIS) to be used as a decision support system within the City of Berkeley. A well-developed GIS can build a strong base for a Spatial Decision Support System as it is an interactive, computer-based system designed to support a user or group of users in achieving a higher effectiveness. Building a low-cost GIS for the City of Berkeley was made possible due to the utilization of existing data together with spatial theory and algorithms to improve existing data, and create completely new datasets. The methods involved are categorized into data transformation, data creation and data standardization. A new method, involving graph theory and the concept of a-skeletons, to automatically generate street centerlines from double-edged road casings was developed. The method was found to produce good results with minimal user interaction. The centerline dataset was added great information value through the transfer of attribute data from a "attribute rich" data set. The existing and incomplete city parcel map was referenced to highly accurate reference points and corrected to improve its geo-positional accuracy. The link between the spatial entities in this map was substantially enhanced. Ancillary data; environmental and socioeconomic, from various sources, was transformed and standardized to enable easy integration into a GIS. The existing data provides great potential for a large amount of GIS applications, and with further efforts to gather and integrate additional data the system can become very powerful. This stage has been reached in a short amount of time and to a relatively low cost. The project has built a solid base for improved mapping and analysis tools within the city and has shown that even small municipalities with limited resources, can get involved in, and use, GIS.

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