Helping Faculty, Staff, and Students Leverage GIS

Geographic Information Systems include the hardware, software, and community involved in the collection, visualization, and analysis of spatial data.  Any piece of information with a reference to location counts as spatial data.  GIS give us mechanisms to work with a wide collection of information from disparate sources, allowing us to analyze weather patterns, identify hot spots of disease, forecast changes in population distribution, and respond promptly to disasters.

GIS is currently being used by professionals in sectors as diverse as environmental protection, health and human services, public administration, and education to analyze data, troubleshoot problems, allocate resources, and improve livelihoods.


GIS Map Projects at Drew

Integrating Spatial Data Analysis and Mapmaking into Drew’s Curriculum and Campus Life

Drew’s Spatial Data Center is committed to teaching GIS and mapmaking technology to Drew students, faculty and staff.  Maps and spatial data analysis are powerful tools that can be used to spark class discussion, enhance critical thinking, and improve the University’s business processes.  Below are some examples of the work the Spatial Data Center has already done to engage faculty, staff, and students in using this exciting technology.

Boat Dock Inventory for the Lake Hopatcong Foundation

Advanced GIS students Max Dolphin and Dan Ratyniak digitized over 2,000 boat docks as part of a community partnership with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation and New Jersey State Parks Department to assess development along the lake shores.  Two web maps products from their work show the lengths of the docks, and the lot and block for the parcel associated with each dock, as well as the tax records associated with each parcel.

Promoting Innovative Tobacco Control Programs

Advanced GIS students Kat O’Neill and Elena McKeown worked with the Global Alliance for Smokefree Policy (GASP) to survey the municipalities in New Jersey have smokefree policies for their public parks.  They also examined municipality policy related to e-cigarettes, and the availability of smokefree multi-unit housing across the state.

EPA-TRI Partnership

Students in the Spring and Fall 2014 semesters of GIS studied the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory in great detail, to learn about the distribution of environmental hazards in relation to demographic measures, the impact of hurricanes on industrial facilities, and local participation in pollution prevention programs.  Joe Sollod and Theresa Campbell will present their work in an EPA webinar for Dillard University Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.

Great Swamp Watershed Association – Trail Map Updates

With GPS in hand, Kaylie McNeil helped update trail maps for the Great Swamp Watershed Association and for Lord Stirling Park.  She also assessed ecological diversity, land use, LiDAR, and forest characteristics for these parks.

Looking at Drew’s Commuter Habits

(click on the image to see the full-sized poster)

Do you drive to Drew? GIS Support Specialist, Krista White, did a speculative analysis of the carbon output of Drew employees who commute by automobile. The analysis uses zip code information to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide that would be produced by employees if they all drove to work each day. The analysis is restricted to a 50 mile radius of Drew, but provides much food for thought. If you drive to get to work on campus, the map and accompanying data may cause you to think more about alternative transportation.

Using GIS to Encourage Healthy Habits

Katen Moore of the Drew University’s Morris Health Services Center published a web site that uses GIS to create walking maps on and around the Drew campus.  The goal of the site is to encourage students, faculty, and staff to get out and get more exercise.  She has linked her maps to a number of resources on the benefits to health provided by walking as few as 10 minutes every day.  Visit the Walk Drew web site.

Mapping Black Methodism

Methodist Librarian Christopher Anderson learned skills in ArcMap 10 to geocode addresses, calculate their latitude and longitude coordinates.  He is entering those coordinates into a Google Map to document the history of Black Churches in the Central Jurisdiction of the Methodist Church.

GIS for Campus Health and Safety

GIS and Civic Engagement

The Spatial Data Center at Drew is involved with a number of community partners in civic engagement projects to help them utilize GIS technology to support their missions. We are currently partnered with the Ironbound Community Corporation, helping them to map hazardous air pollutants and other toxins in the Ironbound community of Newark, NJ (for more information, see the GIS Summer Intern project below). We are helping the Communities of Shalom use GIS to create interactive, online maps of their Shalom Zones that promote peace and local community development in the U.S., Africa, and Haiti. The Spatial Data Center is also discussing a partnership with Haitian Artisans for Peace International to help them create online interactive maps and provide spatial data to map resources in the town of Mizak, Haiti.

Summer GIS Intern Helps Fight Medical Waste Incinerator in Newark

Zoe and GIS Support Specialist, Krista White, created a map utilized by ICC to present information to the City of Newark to help fight the construction of a medical waste incinerator in the Ironbound. The Newark City Zoning Board voted down the construction of the incinerator in October of 2010. The full story of Crum & White’s map can be read in Drew Today.

Analyzing History Using GIS

Dr. Wyatt Evans, Associate Professor of History, is investigating the use of GIS to explore population statistics in the Ohio River Valley between 1860 and 1870.  The Spatial Data Center supplied Dr. Evans with the map product you see at the right, comparing the population of African-Americans in Indiana counties of the Ohio River Valley.

GIS Data Resources
Below you will find links to data resources to be used in GIS projects. For help with any of the listed resources, or to request an appointment or suggest additional resources, contact GIS Specialist Lisa Jordan at (ljordan@drew.edu) x3740.

Data Resources: International Data

Integrated Public Use Microdata Series International

Census data from 44 countries and 130 different census projects. Be aware that any data sets from this site will be using standard map projections and coordinate systems different from those used in the United States. As a result, adjustments may need to be made in your map files to accommodate these differences.

NASA Global Change Master Directory

More than 25,000 descriptions of Earth science data sets and services for relevant to global change and Earth science research.

Data Resources: U.S. Data


Provides Tiger/Line shapefiles for the digital map base for a geographic information system or other mapping software. These files provide the outlines for U.S. state shapes and other basic digital, visual information and data onto which maps may be built. The files do not contain mapping software.


The new National Atlas of the United States, providing a comprehensive, map-like view into the enormous wealth of geospatial and geostatistical data collected for the United States. It includes electronic maps and services that are delivered online.

USGS National Map Seamless Server

Provides free data downloads, user-defined datasets, acquired data from different hosts, elevation point and profile tools and more for national and international geophysical data.

U.S. DOT Federal Highway Administration

Links to datasets for roads, bridges, and highways across the U.S.. Also contains links to other types of data gathered by other federal agencies, including the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Links directly to the CDC’s resources for creating public health maps and for GIS and spatial analysis.

Data Resources: New Jersey Data

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection: Data Downloads

Freely available statewide data files and information for New Jersey. Note: Shape files are in a proprietary format usable in ArcGIS.

New Jersey Department of Transportation GIS Data Downloads

Shapefiles and geodatabase files available here for the New Jersey Roadway Network and the New Jersey Tide Telemetry System.

Regional Information

Each region of New Jersey maintains specific data for their area. The following are links to GIS data for each region listed.

Other Resources

Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science

CSISS seeks to develop unrestricted access to tools and perspectives that will advance the spatial analytic capabilities of researchers throughout the social sciences.

National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis

The National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis is an independent research consortium dedicated to basic research and education in geographic information science and its related technologies, including geographic information systems (GIS). Look in the Education section of their web site to find resources for teaching interdisciplinary spatial analysis skills.

Drew Sustainability Map

Spatial Data Center Available Services

The Spatial Data Center offers a number of support service for members of the Drew community. To request services or suggest additional service, contact GIS Specialist Lisa Jordan at (ljordan@drew.edu) x3740.

Course Material Development

Let the data center help incorporate spatial thinking, geographic information systems (GIS), or spatial statistics into your coursework, with course specific modules (in-class or online material)

Faculty Research

Let the data center help you to find spatial data, generate custom maps, and learn about geospatial techniques relevant to your work

Web Site Development

Let the data center produce digital maps and materials specific to your course needs

Equipment Loans

  • Set of 15 Garmin eTrex and 2 Garmin Oregon receivers for classroom GPS exercises
  • 5 laptops equipped with ESRI ArcGIS
  • A professional survey grade Trimble GPS receiver, and 2 external antennae

Equipment loans are available to faculty and students for GIS work the field.  To reserve equipment, please complete this form.


  • 1-on-1 or workshop training on GIS basics, GPS basics, and an introduction to spatial statistics
  • Special topics in GIS (advanced statistics, open source software)
  • Preparing professional posters for presentation