Monday, August 31, 2015

GIS 4930 Special Topics: Project1 Network Analyst

I know I had a Summer break but where did the time go? It feels like it's been a very long time since I have done Lab Work, while at the same time, where did the Summer Break go to?

This week, I start GIS 4930 Special Topics, with a Network Analyst project. The project, is broken into three one week phases - good thing too.  So, this week, I begin with reviewing my data and commencing the "Prepare Week." The following weeks I will actually conduct the "Analysis" and write the "Report."

The scenario is that I have been hired by the city of Tampa Bay to conduct an analysis of roads that could be used for evacuation in the event a hurricane causes flooding. I will use the following information:

1. Classified DEM polygon layer (with appropriate color scheme)
2. Flood Zone layer with appropriate color scheme
3. Hospitals, police stations, fire stations, shelters, national guard armory
4. Roads

This week's objective was to organize and prepare by assembling and preparing all my data. I used a Clipping tool (MassClip) and Re-projection tool (MassProject) and I re-classified a DEM and converted it from a Raster to Polygon. The Python work was very cool as I just finished GIS 5103, Python Programming; I could actually understand and appreciate the Tools written using Python. The last part of the exercise was to make a map package and share my map with a colleague. This included writing an email to let this person know what I had done and solicit feedback. I think writing the email was a challenge since I did not know the level of detail required for this fictitious colleague. Here's what my "Prepare map" looks like at this point. I can always spend much more time on any lab and I am sure I will tweek this map as I conduct the next Phase of Project1 - Analysis Week.

Friday, August 7, 2015

GIS5103 - Sharing Tools

I have somehow made it to the last Module of GIS 5103 - GIS Programming, otherwise known as "Python."  I must admit, I have learned more than I could absorb and the journey has been a hoot. I have learned more about coding and how to use Python for GIS applications than I ever thought possible. 

In this last Module we covered how to create a tool and then securely share it. The basic process to make a script tool involves writing the script, making a toolbox and then "importing" the script to the toolbox. In this way, you can share the tool and even provide a password to securely transmit the tool to colleagues.  Below is the tool dialog window for the tool I created:

This tool takes an input feature class and adds random points then places a buffer around the points. When successfully run, the output of the tool looks like this:

Another cool thing we learned was the basic steps to make Python scripts or other files visible in ArcCatalog, First, you must add the file extension (PY in the case of Python files) to the File Types tab. First, select “Customize” from the main menu with ArcCatalog open; select “ArcCatalog Options” from the dropdown menu and then select the File Types tab. From this point you can select “New Types” and from the list, (I had no list and had to manually type in my file extension) select the file extension you want to add. 

As I said, I learned quite a bit during this course. I enjoyed the entire semester and all aspects of learning how to use Python. My challenge each week had been and remains, that I could spend countless hours going over a script and there always seemed to be at least one item that caused me to stall; I just could not get that last block of code to run properly like in Module 8, “Working with Geometries.” I was off to a good start with that script but I just could not get the darn thing to work properly.  On the other hand, one of the best things about this course was the “Discussion Board” and the “Helping Each Other” section of each Module. I don’t feel as though I posted too many questions, but I guarantee you that I read each and every question and answer, and that is the only reason I was able to accomplish as much as I did. I know we are all in this together and I couldn’t be happier about the company I am keeping nowadays. Thank you to everyone who posted a question and answer and occasionally “a glimpse of the working code.”  Good luck to all of us in our future GIS endeavors.    

Thursday, August 6, 2015

GIS4048 Final Project-Brevard County Solar Project

This Final Project was awesome! This project was a lot of work but it was a great experience. The task was to conduct a Location Decision analysis for a subject of your choice. I was excited to tackle this project and I decided to do my Location Decision analysis for a proposed Solar Center in Brevard County. I was partially influenced to select this subject because I feel strongly that we should aggressively pursue Solar Energy production and the fact that I live in Brevard County.

My "client" was the "Special Project Coordinator for Brevard County, Mr. Estrella Sol (Star Sun, pretty clever, if I do say so myself). Brevard County, through new leadership, wants to become known as the "Solar Coast" as well as the "Space Coast." At least, that is the scenario I invented for this Final Project. In reality, FPLis building new Solar Centers in DeSoto, Charlotte and Manatee Counties, and I am saying that Brevard County wants to be a part of this opportunity.  The criteria for this Solar center is:

                                   #1 The parcel must be owned by Brevard County
                                   #2 The parcel must be within 1 mile of a major road
                                   #3 The parcel must be at least 1000 yards from schools
                                   #4 The parcel must be greater than 100 acres
                                   #5 The parcel should avoid disturbing areas of 
                                        environmentally sensitive lands 

For this project I used, Geoprocessing tools such as Clip, Buffer, Euclidean Distance, ModelBuilder and Weighted Analysis. The data I used was as follows:


I was also fortunate to have the Brevard County Appraiser website available for my reference. I was able to view aerials of the Parcels I was considering for this project.

After establishing the environment and setting my projection, I used a couple of Select By Attribute searches to limit the field of possible Parcels for consideration; Brevard County has 287,853 parcels . I selected Parcels owned by Brevard County (Select By Attribute > ONAME = Brevard County; this gave me 1806 parcels) and then Parcels greater than 100 Acres (this left me with only 48 parcels). Then, I used ModelBuilder to run  a process to find the Parcels that are near (within 1 mile of) a Major Road, I-95.

The last portion of the Project Analysis was to create a Weighted Analysis model. I used the Feature to Raster tool on three datasets:

Parcels_100Acres to ConvertParcelsBC100
MajorRoads_I95 to ConvertMajorRoads
BC_schools_selection to ConvertSchools

The Weighed Analysis model produced a map that seemed to favor the largest parcels, but it was not as conclusive as I had hoped.  

Finally, I was able to use the Brevard County Appraiser's website to review aerials of several of the Parcels. I found some Parcels that looked like they met the criteria, but the aerial image showed that the parcel was actually underwater; easy to eliminate that parcel from consideration. In the end I was able to find three great parcels that met all the criteria including avoiding sensitive lands.  Here's my final map and a link to my final presentation:

This exercise and the entire course of GIS 4048 Applications in GIS, has been very illuminating. I thoroughly enjoyed studying the different GIS applications such as HomeIand Security, Natural hazards and Urban Planning. Once again, I feel like I could have spent even more time working on this final project and all of the projects throughout the semester. If I had more time on this Final Project, I could have provided a written report that included all the information from the Brevard website and I believe this would have been greatly valuable to my customer, Mr. Estrella Sol.  Also, if I had found data about soil type and slope, that too would have been very useful. We take for granted, living in Florida, that slope is not a factor, however, I know, for instance, that in the Tallahassee area “rolling hills” seem to be the norm. A solar site on the wrong side of a hill would be disastrous (better use hillside shading for this analysis). I know I have learned a lot from this course; now my challenge is to continue to use the skills I have gained. To that end I am doing volunteer work with the Brevard County GIS Department and I hope to find full-time employment in the not-too-distant-future.