From interactive web maps to spatial data analysis, digital geographic data and information are becoming an important part of the data science landscape. Almost everything happens somewhere that can be mapped on the surface of the earth. In many cases the where matters as much to an analysis as the what and the why. Geospatial data analysis allows a researcher to consider location explicitly. This course provides an introduction to working with digital geographic data, or geospatial data. We will explore concepts of geospatial data representation, methods for acquisition, processing and analysis, and techniques for creating compelling geovisualizations. No prior knowledge is assumed or expected.
The Foundations of Data Science course provides a baseline of computing skills, statistical concepts, and data visualization, including basic geospatial data presentation. This connector extends those aspects in the geospatial domain and augments them with concepts that are rather specific to this domain. It has both an application of data science aspect and a technical depth aspect. During the first three weeks of the term, the connector provides a background in geospatial analysis, while the main course develops a body of computational and statistical skills. It then draws on these skills in studies that emphasize geospatial analysis more deeply. In many cases there are direct parallels between the general data analytics operations and that for geospatial data. For example, selection, join, and filtering apply generally, but also have specific geospatial variants, such as querying based on coordinates or spatial relationships. In many cases, these involve computations on data, rather than merely accessing attributes. These computational requirements give rise to a family of important concepts, such as geospatial representations, projections and transformations. Analogously, geospatial visualization presents unique aesthetic concepts and issues.
An important aspect of the connection is the ability to cross-fertilize the computational environment between the Foundations course and the connector, allowing students to focus on concepts, rather than specifics of particular tools. The connector ties the techniques students learn in the course with tools they would encounter in the profession. Like many of the connectors, this one provides an avenue for drawing upon the broad population in the foundation courses to interest students in geography and geographic information analysis more generally.