Best practices GIS

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Map making

When beginning to make your map it is important to consider various elements before you begin, such as what is the audience, what questions are aimed to be answered by the map, what is the message of the map, what data will be needed to address the questions and visualize the message required? These are just a few of the initial things that must be considered when beginning to make a map.

Read the resources below to get a full list of things to consider when creating a map.

Geo-Data Management

IMSMA provides an effective means to store and catalog your geo data, however when that data is removed from the IMSMA system it is important to consider closely the storage or organization of the data.

Below are some key things to consider when managing geodata:

  1. Keep a historic record
    It is important that either in the attributes or in the filename of the data, the data of the geo-data is present. This will serve as a time stamp for the data so in the future users will know that this specific dataset represents information from a specific point in time. This is dramatically reduce confusion between old and new updated datasets, and in some cases provide a better ease of access for users looking for data of a specific date range.
  2. Always indicate the source of the data
    If the data was provided by the government, another organization or from an external source, it is important to indicate this either in the attributes of the data, in the file name, or noted in a “read me” file associated with the dataset. This will allow for data accountability as well as ensure you are able to correctly credit a data source in your maps, or locate the original producer of the data should any issues with the data arise.
  3. If using shape files, keep all files associated with a shape file in a unique folder for that individual shape file
    Shape files have an average of 7 associated files, all of which are important for GIS to read and use the data. One of the most common mistakes made is to have all these files in one single folder with all other shape file data. This makes it not only difficult to locate the file you may require when you need to send the data, but it also increases the risk of a file accidentally being deleted that is associated with an individual dataset and so rendering the dataset no longer usable. To prevent this always create a separate folder for each individual shape file, to contain ONLY the associated files for that specific shape file.
  4. Consider using geodatabases
    A geodatabase is like a filing cabinet which can contain multiple datasets. These are often used when multiple shape files need to be used and housed in an easy to access location. Geodatabases can contain not only vector data but also raster data as well as tables and documents. However, when using geodatabases, it is important to ensure that each geodatabase is organized based on data type to avoid confusion of the users.