Introductory Geographic Information Systems

Prentice Hall
John R Jensen / Ryan R. Jensen  
Total pages
February 2012
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Introductory Geographic Information Systems
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Geospatial technologies in general – and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in particular – are becoming increasingly important in our society. GIS technology is used to identify the optimal routes for emergency vehicles, to determine the best locations for various businesses, schools, and facilities, to monitor the growth and expansion of urban areas as a way to manage natural resources, and much more.

Introductory of Geographic Information Systems by John Jensen and Ryan Jensen is an ideal introduction for those who know very little about geographic information systems and spatial analysis. Relatively complex GIS principles are introduced in basic terms, often using graphics to communicate principles rather than complex mathematical equations. Content is not geared toward any single commercial GIS software program, and the book’s timely, practical examples and extensive visual format appeal to today’s students. This text can be used at the undergraduate or graduate level in one or two semester courses in Introductory and Intermediate GIS, yet can also be useful for professionals looking to increase their knowledge in this subject area.


  • Introductory-level treatment This book is written for those who know very little about geographic information systems and spatial analysis. Relatively complex GIS principles are introduced in as simple a manner as possible, often using graphics to communicate principles rather than complex mathematical equations. When equations are required, they are presented using simple algebraic and/or trigonometry terms.
  • Versatile presentation – Although the book is written for a college audience, many professionals wishing to learn the fundamentals of GIS will also find the book useful. This book is a resource for physical, natural, and social scientists interested in how GIS can be used to solve real-world problems. Ideally, the reader should have education or practical experience in a systematic body of knowledge (e.g., physical geography, geology, forestry, biogeography, planning, wildlife biology, etc.) where they will apply the GIS principles and procedures described in this book.
  • Timely, practical examples and applications appear in each chapter. Many of the GIS principles and spatial analysis methods introduced in the book are adapted from GIS research projects conducted by Drs. John and Ryan Jensen during the past 10 years.
  • Content is not oriented toward any single commercial GIS software program. The majority of the geospatial analysis examples used in the book were created using ESRI ArcGIS and ERDAS Imagine. Nevertheless, the illustrative examples are crafted so that the book emphasizes theoretical and practical GIS processing without advocating or advertising the use of one GIS or digital image processing system over another.
  • Unique illustrations are included throughout. The book contains hundreds of entirely new illustrations and tables created by the authors to make complex principles easy to understand. Most are in color, which facilitates the description and discussion of important geospatial concepts.
  • All of the illustrations and tables in the book are available in a digital format. All the illustrations and tables are included in Microsoft PowerPoint files associated with each chapter. Educators can use these illustrations in addition to their own teaching materials to prepare accurate and visually stunning lecture and laboratory materials.
  • Consistent pedagogy in each chapter, including Chapter-opening Overviews and Learning Outcomes, and end-of-chapter Summaries, Review Questions, and References, provides students with a structured learning path to help master GIS concepts.
  • Large, full-color format optimally showcases the figures and diagrams, ensuring that they are readable and visually informative. The most important GIS and cartographic design principles are more effectively communicated using color.
  • Selected appendices containing information about societies and organizations that promote the effective use of GIS, reliable sources of data for input to a GIS, and sources of GIS software and hardware are provided.
  • A premium website at contains self-study quizzes, “In the News” RSS Feeds, data files, and additional resources to extend learning beyond the text.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • 2. Datums, Ellipsoids, Geoids, Coordinate Systems, and Map Projections
  • 3. Data for Input to GIS
  • 4. Data Quality
  • 5. Data Models and Databases
  • 6. Spatial Analysis of Vector and Raster Data
  • 7. GIS Network Analysis
  • 8. Statistics and Spatial Data Measurements
  • 9. Spatial Analysis of Three-dimensional Data
  • 10. Cartography Using A GIS
  • 11. Computers and Computer Programming in GIS
  • 12. Future of GIScience


Dr. John Jensen is a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina. He is a certified photogrammetrist, a past-president of the American Society for Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing (6,500 members), has published more than 130 articles in GIScience, and received the NASA/USGS William T. Pecora Award and the ASPRS John E. Estes GIScience Teaching Award. He has mentored 32 PhD and 65 MS students in GIScience.  He has conducted more than 60 GIScience-related projects sponsored by NASA, DOE, and NOAA. He is the editor of the journal GIScience & Remote Sensing and co-editor of the Earth Observation section of Geography Compass. He is the Co-director of the GIS & Remote Sensing Laboratory at the University of South Carolina. His research focuses on the analysis of urban and biogeographic problems.



Dr. Ryan Jensen is an Associate Professor of Geography at Brigham Young University and is a Geographic Information System Professional (GISP).  He specializes in biogeography GIS modeling, especially related to urban forestry and rangeland. He teaches GIS courses at BYU and he was involved in many GIScience-related projects while serving as a director of the Center for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems at Indiana State University. Dr. Ryan Jensen has mentored four PhD and six MS students in GIScience. He is the co-editor of the Earth Observation section of Geography Compass, and he serves on the editorial board of Applied Geography. He has published over 35 peer-reviewed articles.