Beyond Simple Mapping: GIS Workshops in May

By Shannon Thol, GIS Analyst and Graduate StudentGIS workshop

AMES, Iowa — Planners have access to a wealth of information about their communities —  from demographic census data to municipal zoning codes and county tax maps. Most of these data are accompanied by spatial information that can be studied using Geographic Information Systems. Community planners can gain the skills they need to take full advantage of this information during upcoming workshops at Iowa State University.

“Beyond Simple Mapping with GIS,” offered May 20 and May 28, will include new activities that follow current planning trends and spatial analysis needs. The workshops will focus on physical planning and the built environment, land use and zoning, and smart growth and urban sprawl. These workshops are sponsored by the Iowa Chapter of the American Planning Association and ISU Extension and Outreach.

Each workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the ISU campus. The registration fee is $250 per participant, and participants will be eligible for 6.5 professional Certificate Maintenance credits with the American Institute of Certified Planners. Planners interested in attending should contact Monica Haddad, associate professor in the Department of Community and Regional Planning, at 515-294-8979 or for more information.

Haddad is coordinating the workshop, which she developed with the aid of student assistants Joshua Hellyer and Aaron Bartling, and GIS analyst Shannon Thol.

Regardless of where they work, planners need concrete tools that they can apply in their own communities, Hadhad said. That’s why this year’s workshop will be as practical and hands-on as possible. Several tutorials based on hypothetical but realistic planning scenarios will be used to introduce planners to a series of spatial and analytical tools that they can use in their planning tasks.

Haddad’s ultimate goal is to equip planners through the workshops with tools to analyze the geographic dimension of their community data. Because for planners who know how to analyze spatial data, space is not the final frontier — it is the beginning of a well-informed plan.



Monica Hadhad, Community and Regional Planning, 515-294-8979,

Sandra Oberbroeckling, ISU Extension Community and Economic Development, 515-294-3721,