Geospatial Data and Software
Geographic Information Science uses software such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to manage, analyse and display data. "Every GIS comprises of 5 elements: computer hardware, software, data, personnel to run the system & a set of institutional arrangements to support the other components" (Aronoff,1989)
Geospatial data is increasingly available via download or live stream on the internet (see the links below). Some of this is available on the UC network by mapping a drive to \\file\bulk\geodata (if prompted for your UC username prefix it with uocnt e.g. uocnt\<yourusername>).
UC has a site license for ArcGIS Desktop from Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) that covers non-commercial use by students and staff. ArcGIS runs natively in Windows and can be installed on University computers from Software Centre. On-campus ArcGIS uses a Concurrent Use license server, while UC laptops working off-campus require a VPN connection to see this, or a borrowed license - borrowing is a must for off-line use.
MacOSX and Linux users can run it in Windows via Bootcamp or a VM, or alternatively use QGIS which is multi-platform and free and open source (and also in Software Centre). Esri don’t provide instructions, but this article ArcGIS Pro in Mac OSX is helpful.
ArcGIS Desktop v10.x (32-bit ArcMap): On-campus, run ArcGIS Administrator then select Borrow/Return and select just the licenses you want to borrow – more licenses take more time to check out. The borrow period will time out on the maximum borrow limit (365 days) or the annual license expiry date (29 February), whichever is first.
ArcGIS Pro v2.x (64-bit): On-campus, run ArcGIS Pro and go to Settings> Licensing and check on ‘Authorize ArcGIS Pro to work offline’. The borrow period will time out on the maximum borrow limit (365 days) or the annual license expiry date (29 February), whichever is first.
ArcGIS Desktop v10.x (32-bit ArcMap) which requires a Single Use license activated with an authorization code that lasts for 1-year from the date of activation.
ArcGIS Pro v2.x (64-bit) which requires a Named User license with Enterprise login that lasts for the duration of your UC login account.
- Enable the extensions: in ArcMap use the Main Menu> Customize> Extensions…; in ArcGIS Pro use Project> Licensing> and under Settings click Configure your licensing options.
- Naming conventions: keep names short and simple, start with a character a to z, trailing numbers and underscores are OK. This applies to folders and files including spreadsheets/workbooks, and also worksheets and column header names.
- Set relative paths to make projects transportable between different drives (assumes everything is in one 'project' folder): in ArcMap use the Main Menu> Customize> ArcMap Options…; in ArcGIS Pro this is not required, but you can check in Project> Options> Current Settings.
- Use a File Geodatabase for each project, in that project folder – a file geodatabase is a smart folder that stores raster and vector data much more efficiently than file based GRID’s and shapefiles.
- Work locally as network speeds are slower and network latency can cause crashes (PS: you'll need to backup manually!).
Tutorial data is available on campus by mapping a drive to \\file\bulk\geodata\Esri (if prompted for your UC username prefix it with uocnt e.g. uocnt\<yourusername>). Here you will find a folder called ArcTutor containing tutorial files (~9GB) for past and present Esri ArcGIS Desktop software.
- Check out the Esri Academy for self-paced Training. You need an Esri/ArcGIS account for training that is free, while those that require 'maintenance' can be unlocked by getting connected to UC's ArcGIS Online 'organisation' account, obtained by emailing John Thyne.
- Another great resource is YouTube: For ArcGIS ArcMap search for keywords that include the software such as 'arcmap basics', or to create a map layout see How to make a simple map in ArcMap. For ArcGIS Pro search for 'arcgis pro basics', or to create a map layout see Make a layout in ArcGIS Pro.
- If you want to create a geological map then have a look at Digitising a geological map in ArcGIS Desktop from the Scientific Illustrator, Department of Geology, University of Otago.
- Finally, here are some tips on using ArcGIS at UC.
Need more information?
Contact our GIS Manager and Support person: