GIS at Dickinson College

GIS News, Events and Student Work blog

Month: November 2010

Walkability and GIS

Have you ever wondered how walkable your city, hometown or community is? There are GIS based tools out there that you can use to find out! The most well know is Walk Score, which assigns a location points based on how many daily amenities are with a 1 mile radius of your location. For example, if your home has 2 restaurants, 3 grocery stores, a farmers market, a library and a train station all with a half mile of it, you’ll will get a high walkability score. Almost all of your daily errands can probably be done on foot.

Walk Score isn’t perfect, but it does give you an approximation of the walkability of your property. They list some of the limitations of the technology on their page, “how it doesn’t work.”

The newest tool is Walkshed, which determines walkability based on user preferences. For example, if it is very important to you to live near a bus station and a farmers market, but you don’t really care about bars or retail shops, the technology will create a heat map that identifies the areas that fit your request. Someone else, however, might really want to live by bars & restaurants… so their map would be different. Walkshed is only available in Philadelphia and NYC at the moment, but they hope to expand the technology in the future.

Where do you think these guys get there data? What are their biggest challenges?

Pennsylvania Energy Impacts Assessment

On Monday, the Nature Conservancy released a new report that reveals the potential impact of energy development in PA on high value conservation areas. The report specifically looks at marcellus shale drilling, industrial wind generation and the transmission associated with each form of energy production. The Report uses extensive GIS analysis to visually display projections of future energy development. These maps do not predict the future, instead they use current data to project the impacts of development. Specific circumstances, such as technology and demand, do not change. Using GIS technology the authors have visually depicted what PA might look light in 30 years under three different circumstances. The report includes several interactive maps. Check out the maps and the full report!


On Wednesday, November 17, 2010,  HACC and the Commonwealth of PA will present the second annual GIS Day at HACC Midtown! This FREE event will include workshops and demos from students, local, state, and federal agencies, nonprofits, professional organizations, private industry, and others. The morning events will be focused to high school students and educators while the afternoon session will contain something for everyone! There will be a poster session for college students, a map contest, and exhibit booths and much much more. To participate, see information below!

Dickinson College’s Intro to GIS course will be attending. Please email Jim at with any questions.

Bizarre Mapping

Check out these cool maps. The Bizarre Map Challenge, of San Diego State University, challenges high school, college and university students in the United States to

  • promote spatial thinking
  • increase awareness of geospatial technology
  • inspire curiosity about geographic patterns and map representation in students and the broader public

Students from all over the US submitted maps in 2010. One won $5000! Not bad eh? Check out the 13 winners and finalists!

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