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GEO 409: Advanced GIS

GEO 409

Advanced Topics in GIS

With a distinct Kentucky flavor


Boyd Shearer

Contact information in Syllabus

Tell me about your interests

Quick FAQ


  • Office hours
    • Wed: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
    • Thur: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
    • Zoom: by appointment and very flexible
  • In lab outside of class time
    • By appointment with limited availability
    • Weekends are an option

Course mechanics

  • Canvas is where you start lessons and submit labs.
  • The Course website is where you find presentations, which contain links to data and other resources.

Tech reqs πŸ”­

  • ArcGIS Pro (FYI: free MOOC Feb 22–Apr 5).
  • Lab computers have all required software.
  • Use personal computer, but install required software.

Tech reqs πŸ”­


What helps me teach


Make maps


  • a map represents a real place
  • with real processes & people.


  • personal adventures
  • inspire.


  • with new tools and methods
  • to create a unique style.

& field trips!

  • to measure and test our maps.


Digital twin?

  • Will our maps be as detailed as the real thing?
  • A Roblox experience instead of a physical trip?
  • A Metaverse trip to Mammoth Cave?

A map is

  • An artistic rendering of Earth.
  • A measurement of our environment.
  • A tool for remembering the past and navigating the unknown.
  • Are maps needed if we have a digital twin?

Past courses

  • Stay local
  • make snazzy visuals
  • summary measurements
  • and tell a story.


Fall, 2022

The team

Our goals

We will

  • Work in cutting-edge technology and data
    • ArcGIS Pro
    • Lidar
    • Python
    • Git & GitHub
  • Map a site in exquisite detail
    • From feet to inches in resolution
  • Create a public portfolio

ArcGIS Pro (AP)

  • Leading GIS & mapping software (looks good on a resume)
  • Well-documented help and extensive support
  • We can stay almost entirely in AP
  • Not free (like QGIS) and runs only on Windows OS 😞


  • LIght Detection And Ranging
  • Point cloud is densely sampled features using infrared lasers
  • New frontier in mapping and analysis

Lidar example

  • Aerial lidar for entire state
  • Ground and above-ground features

Lidar data

  • Massive
  • >20 TB for first edition
  • State divided into 46,105 tiles
  • How to handle so much data?


  • Among the most popular programming languages
  • We'll start with no programming knowledge
  • Text-based instructions (aka code) make working with big data a lot easier.

Code > Visualize

Code examples

  • First challenge in learning code is understanding syntax.
    • Comments
    • Data
    • Instructions

Why even code?

  • When we have emerging tech like AI and ML?
  • DALLΒ·E generate, 'a map of kentucky'
  • 'topographic map of kentucky, united states showing parks and forests'

Why even code?

  • ArcGIS Pro seems like a primarily visual tool.
  • Well, maps are visualizations of data.
  • Data management majority of work.
  • Code documents that work as a set of reproducible instructions.


Git & GitHub

  • Code management, backup, and collaboration.
  • Learn basic web page development.
  • Publish public portfolios of your maps. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€



  • measurements and visualizations of places in Kentucky.
  • Any feature that you want to visualize and measure.

Final project

  • Make 3D and 2D site map
    • Interactive map,
    • Potree point cloud renderer,
    • Cesium Ion web platform,
    • or a video.
  • Publish online

Let's Map!