Introduction

When beginning any GIS project there are three things you need to know

  1. the project’s purpose defines
  2. the maps and data that are relevant to the project, and then…
  3. the processes that will be applied to the maps and data.

A GIS project to find a site for a Primary School

One of the many thousands of uses of GIS (an application of GIS in urban planning) is the example of siting a Primary School…

Purpose of the GIS project

Simplistically, in finding a site for a new Primary School, your aim would be to find a suitably sized location that’s available, that’s surrounded by lots of primary school age children who don’t have a primary school close by.

Finding GIS Data that are relevant to the project.

Once the relevant data are in your GIS you’re ready to create a GIS model of ideal school locations. Such a model will likely include…

  • Measures of accessibility for potential students – GIS maps will include public transport, cycling and walking track access, and road access.
  • Cadastral information (land ownership) – GIS maps will include block sizes and ownership.
  • Town planning information – GIS maps will be of planning zones. This will help narrow down areas where planning regulation already allow schools to setup
  • Census GIS maps – areas where there’s lots of potential students that are currently under-serviced by schools. Its no sense locating a primary school in an area that contains mostly old people.
  • GIS map of existing primary schools

The GIS Processes and Operations that will be applied to the maps and data

One uses of GIS is an application of GIS in urban planning - Finding a site for a school
In this example from my Spatial Analysis course, we’re using Spatial Operations to find out (geographically) the number of school age students in each school catchment

GIS maps, like any data, need to be turned into information in order to be useful. So, your first task would be to relate a GIS census map of primary school aged children to a GIS map of existing primary schools. Census areas (the smaller the better) could be given an attribute containing the distance (as-the-crow-flies, or distance along road network) to the nearest school as an initial measure. You’d then shade your census map to represent…

  1. the distance of the census area from the nearest primary school (eg. 1km, 2km, 3km etc)
  2. the number of primary school aged children in the census area

Census areas with lots of school aged children that live long distances from Primary Schools should be obvious when looking at the two maps, but for big projects you might need to create an additional column in the census map so that each census area would have an additional piece of information attached to it. Using logic as simple as…

  • Census area is long distance from primary school AND contains no primary school aged children: Relevant = NO
  • Census area is close to a primary school AND contains no primary school aged children: Relevant = NO
  • Census area is close to a primary school AND contains primary school aged children: Relevant = NO
  • Census area is long distance from primary school AND contains primary school aged children Relevant = YES

Following this initial pass, you would further refine your search by repeating the process of assigning attributes to each census area. In an ideal situation you’d have very small census areas. This would allow you to use geographical overlay functionality to attach information such as “within an appropriate town planning zone” to each census area.

Conclusion

Finding a site for a new primary school is just one of the thousands of uses of GIS. It is also, of course, an application of GIS in urban planning.

The techniques I’ve touched on are fairly simple once you understand the concepts. A good deal of any problems you’re likely to come across will be data related. For example, things such as relevant GIS maps not being available.

If you would like to know more about the shading techniques I’ve talked about in this post then I teach that in my GIS for Beginners #1 – QGIS Orientation on the Udemy teaching platform. And I teach the Spatial Analysis techniques in my GIS for Beginners #3 – Spatial Analysis Using QGIS course


Ian
Ian

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