I.T. Times
Volume 2. No 3 Information Technology News of the University of California, Davis Spring 1994

Campus GIS Training
Administrative and Academic Units Collaborate

by Ivars Balkits, Planning, Strategy & Administration

Increasingly more but still relatively few people know that the Davis campus has a Geographic Information System (GIS) in place. Developed and maintained by Facilities Services (formerly the Physical Plant), the UCD GIS System provides accurate maps of campus facilities and associated infrastructure and serves as a central repository for related information supplied by multiple departments on campus.

Even fewer people know, perhaps, that for the past three years Facilities Services staff have been co-teaching a campus GIS lab. Offered to students in Geography 198/298, the lab teaches fundamentals of the user interface, data structure, basic features, terminology, and system environment of the UCD GIS System. The primary instructor for the lab has been Sandra Duncan, GIS System & Project Manager for Facilities Services.

Working together, Mary Cunha of the Cartography Lab and Duncan of Facilities Services have offered this 4-credit, 5-hour course each year to six students, limited to that class size by the number of workstations available at Facilities Services that run the campus GIS (two students per workstation).

Facilities Services also has two one-year-long GIS internships, one for Geography students and one for Civil Engineering students.

Duncan's students have gone on to various careers that employ this training. Two students have gone to work at the UC Office of the President, Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources, in Oakland, mapping natural resources that the University owns. Another is working in Southern California for a mapping company. Yet another works for a chemical company in the Bay Area on its GIS project.

"The students are using these skills and concepts," says Duncan. "All have said that being able to put 'GIS-literate' on their resumes helped get a foot in the door."

The campus GIS is on GDS (Graphics Data System) software and a VAX platform. It was started in 1987. In 1991, McDonnel Douglas gave Facilities Services an educational software grant to establish the annual hands-on class.

The GDS product is a high-end system that was primarily chosen by the campus for its area management capabilities, according to Duncan. This feature allows multiple users to work simultaneously on large index drawings that precisely overlay each other using a Cartesian coordinate system. It also allows the user to open up to 500 files simultaneously and create, ad hoc, a map combining exactly the features they wish from the database.

Extremely detailed maps (within 6" accuracy) exist for chilled water lines, gas lines, the electrical system, and numerous other campus features. Using field surveying equipment that feeds data right into the database through a serial connection, Facilities Services is constantly adding new dimensions to the UCD GIS System.

Current or pending projects include:

and so on.

For more information about the UCD GIS System, contact Sandra Duncan at 752-5567.