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PyCon 2011 Atlanta

March 9th–17th

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Geospatial and Python: Education and Application

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Novice / Poster
Geospatial technology is an interdisciplinary field that leans heavily on software. The adoption of Python by the largest commercial Geographic Information Systems (GIS) package, ESRI's ArcGIS 10, has stoked new interest in Python at many schools. Presentation of what's available in open source for GIS, what's new (Python!) in commercial GIS and a place to seek others interested in Geospatial.


Geospatial technology is a growing and exciting interdisciplinary field that leans heavily on software.

The summer of 2010 saw the adoption of Python as the language of choice by the largest commercial Geographic Information Systems (GIS) package, ESRI's ArcGIS 10. This has stoked new interest in teaching and learning Python at many schools with geospatial education programs.

ESRI has chosen Python for similar reasons that it has been chosen for use in many other large scale applications:

  • Python is easy to learn
  • Python is good for beginners and experts
  • Python can be used for small scripts and large applications

With ESRI’s greater focus on Python the current hot topic among GIS educators at undergraduate institutions is how to incorporate Python into the curriculum in terms of its application to ArcGIS.

A side effect of this harder look at Python is the realization of how many geospatial libraries and tools are already available in the Python open source world and the wider opportunities available to students that are trained in both Python and geospatial concepts.

Our poster is designed to be a starting point for those interested in geospatial and an area for discussion for those who are experienced.

We'll present how we've tried to incorporate Python into our curriculum and solicit opinions on what needs to be taught and what developers working in the geospatial field should know.

We'll also show what's available in open source for geospatial in terms of the major packages and their capabilities and provide examples of how common tasks are accomplished. Comparisons will be drawn between how the tasks are accomplished with commercial GIS solutions such as ArcGIS and open source.

Presenter Biographies:
Zac Miller is adjunct instructor in the STEM school at Gainesville State College and a faculty member at the Da Vinci Academy at South Hall Middle School in Gainesville, Georgia. Zac is currently teaching Python programming and Python programming for Geographic Information Systems to K12 and college-level students.

Currently, Carol Kraemer is a student in the 4-year Applied Environmental Spatial Analysis degree at Gainesville State College. She also serves as a full-time staff member of the Institute for Environmental and Spatial Analysis (IESA) as the Geospatial Technology Research Associate. She is actively volunteering with the GISCorps as well as the founder and president of the Geospatial Alliance Club on the GSC campus. She enjoys long walks on the beach and being surrounded by feral cats.