Project Process

Project management and teamwork are fundamental aspects of work in GIScience. For this project, students formed teams of no more than four students. The teams worked together to answer a series of questions about a subsection of British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) by applying the GIS analysis techniques that they learned in the course. The students formatted the answers to these questions as a final written report with maps and delivered processed data (a final shapefile). The teams planned an implementation strategy including identifying required data, assigned responsibilities, performed GIS analyses, and managed group time over two-three weeks of implementation. Some of the central questions included:

  • How much ALR land was in the original shapefile for your subsection region?
  • How much agricultural land is in your final processed shapefile for your subsection region of the ALR after biogeographical and social analysis?
  • Provide some general estimates of agricultural production in your subsection region. This can include types and quantities of agricultural products produced. (Hint: 2011 Census of Agriculture)

Below we provide an outline of the project process from the standpoint of the staff.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify, manage, and manipulate data sets appropriate for GIS analysis
  2. Conduct GIS analyses that demonstrate mastery of GIS concepts and software
  3. Design and implement a project approach
  4. Build teamwork skills
  5. Produce maps, flowcharts and work logs, and a detailed report describing your analysis

Project Data

For this project, the students were encouraged to identify their own open data sources and shown ways to access open data. However, the students were provided with shapefiles of their area of interest (AOI) subsections (open data) and access to two proprietary data sets which are further explained below. Some preparation of both open and proprietary data was required before distributing to students.

Due to the number of student teams, we needed over twenty AOI subsections within the ALR. Though the ALR has six official regional panels (management areas for the ALC) these were not numerically sufficient for the number of student teams. Luckily, in BC, the provincial regional districts align with Canadian census subdivision geographic areas. So, we used 2011 census division geographic boundaries (open data) to clip the entire ALR shapefile into 28 smaller subsections that allowed more focused analyses. We hoped that this would have the added bonus of giving the students the ability to more easily extract census dissemination areas that may be entirely in or overlap with the ALR boundaries in their AOI subsection. By the way, there are actually 29 census divisions in BC  but the Stikine does not have any ALR so we had 28 subsections (a pdf map of the regional districts / census subdivisions). Shapefile overviews of the entire ALR and for each team’s AOI subsection were provided to student teams. These open data files can be downloaded on this website under downloads.

We encouraged students to explore provincial, federal, and other open data resources to identify the best data for their AOI subsections. Yet, the student teams were also provided with access to two proprietary data sets available to the Department of Geography via licensing agreements obtained by UBC. Beyond the importance of open data, it is important that students know how to work with both of these data sets in the BC context as they will often be exposed to them as professionals.

  • TRIM data is owned by the province but is not open data. Due to the complexity of this data set and the limited student time for the project, this raw data was organized at the NTS250k map block. In addition the significant role this data set has for GIS professionals in BC, the ALR data has been rectified to TRIM for planimetric features. So it was important that students use the TRIM for parts of their analyses.
  • CanMap Content Suite, v2015 provides over 100 featuers and is produced by DMTI Spatial Inc. 

The data below was not provided, rather it is part of a list of recommended open data sources for the project that were given to the students during the project process.

Project Deliverables

The deliverables that each team was to make for the project included:

  • a project proposal (data, general outline of analysis, project team tasks)
  • a final report with maps included in the report
  • a shapefile of processed data
  • a student reflection component for an e-portfolio

Templates for the proposal and final report were prepared by staff and provided to students. The report template includes all the questions that students were required to respond to for their report text and maps and thus indicates what type of analyses the student teams might pursue. Copies of these templates can be downloaded below:

Stepwise Summary of Student Activity During the Project

Below is a general summary of the steps students were encouraged to take during the project (a checklist for teams).

  1. Create or join a team of four students and sign the team up on the course website. You must all be in the same lab session to be on a team.
  2. Download the subsection shapefile for the team.
  3. Work on the final project proposal.
  4. Submit as a team the final project proposal.
  5. Implement the project plan, work through the analysis.
  6. Flow Charts: As you go through the GIS analyses, document what you are doing and the specific operations you are performing. You might use Google Docs or another shared platform where everyone can see the edits that are being made in the work log. You must produce a flow chart of the analysis and include it in the final report. It is easiest to create the flow charts if you have a work log to guide you through the steps.
  7. Data Visualisation: You will need to make a series of maps to visualize the GIS analysis steps and final results. These maps must follow the conventions of data classification and data display as learned in the course. Maps must include the following  map elements: legend, title, scale, north arrow, sources, neatline, border. The team might develop a template so that all maps conform to the same standard.
  8. Write the final report.
  9. Submit as a team the final report and processed data (shapefile).
  10. Submit as an individual the link to an individual reflection on the project and teamwork.