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Some comments from my open source GIS class

We are now into our 4th week of my Open Source GIS class at the University of Maryland at College Park.  We’ve covered desktop GIS with QGIS, and worked on basic meat-and-potato vector analysis (overlay, buffer, selections, etc.), spatial interpolation (TIN, IDW), cartography, and multi-criteria map algebra.

The last two weeks we’ve covered Enterprise GIS with Postgres, PostGIS, and QGIS.  The students built their own enterprise GIS, with different users, software platforms, triggers, constraints, groups and roles.  They even tested out simultaneous multi-user editing.

So, 4 weeks in, what do the students have to say?  Here are a couple of samples:

Most of my geodatabase experiences have been as a student at [name withheld]. For me, the exercises practiced in this lab are incredibly helpful to picture the organizational structure for the groups roles and user log ins. Postgres provides a fairly intuitive way to assign the roles, constraints, and views to the database. 

Enterprise GIS makes a lot of practical sense for long time project success. I can see how a database manager could spend hours in PGAdmin setting up table properties and delineating roles and constraints to maintain data integrity with multiple users.

Last fall, I interned for the [name withheld] in the recreational department. I was one of several interns that semester and each semester the interns change. Postgres has the potential to keep the GIS data organized and help provide consistency to the full time staff even with the high intern turnover.  

I think cities like [name withheld] with high demand and need for GIS projects but without the budget to fully support its staff would benefit greatly from organizing GIS data in Postgres and using QGIS for analysis and basic visualization.  – L.B.


After completing the two sections, so far I am impressed with Postgres and it’s abilities as an open source alternative to [name withheld] and other payware options. Other than importing raster data, I found the software to be very robust and user friendly.       My favorite feature was the constraints on data editing and creation. Like your story of the police data spelling Toyota multiple ways, I have encountered numerous data sets where multiple users have entered data differently from spelling, capitalization, full words vs. abbreviations (RD or Road) making the data almost impossible to sort or query. Having that kind of power to control the quality of the data makes it far more flexible and powerful.  – C.G.


This course is being very interesting because it brought to my attention some functionalities of Postgres that I haven’t explored before. I will put to practice what we are learning in some of our current projects. – J.K.


My knowledge with regard to open source GIS was so minimal: I didn’t know that Open source GIS has such ample power to build enterprise GIS system. Thank you so much, this presentation has changed me a lot; I am able to go through all the course material, it just poured inside me without any difficulty, since the presentation is designed in such a way that links theory and practice regarding open source technologies.

    I am enlightened; after this will think differently, honestly my confidence level is getting high to build enterprise GIS system with Open source GIS technologies. We got the knowledge and why not?  Since all the technology is there for free. Once again thank you professor in devoting your time and knowledge to come up with such kind of great presentation that really has a lot of impact in shaping the way we think  and directing when we deal with Open Source GIS. – D.G.

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