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Application of GPS data in Geographic Information Systems

Steffen Nijhuis


Urban planners and designers depend on spatial-oriented information and knowledge to comprehend a situation and to find design opportunities and solutions for spatial problems. Geographic location, spatial patterns and the distribution of features or events across an urban landscape inform many people of the decisions that planners either make or help others to make. as we will see in this chapter, a Geographic information system (GIS) provides urban planners with a platform on which they can deal with these complex spatial environments and represent, analyse and model them. It also generates new insights through advanced spatial analysis and helps to increase efficiency and flexibility in the planning process.

Parallel to GIS, handheld Global Positioning systems (GPS) are becoming increasingly available, opening the way for various applications in spatial research. The linking up of GPS and GIS in particular has proved to be a powerful instrument for urban analysis. This chapter is an introduction to the use of GPS tracking data in GIS for the descriptive and comparative analysis of pedestrian movement behaviour and the exploration of space-time activity patterns. The first part of the chapter addresses some key concepts of GIS into urban planning and design. It will address a number of fundamental GIS tools for delineation and the analysis of spatial patterns and relationships. The second part elaborates on the analysis of spatial patterns using GIS in combination with GPS. GPS tracking data will be explored by mapping movement and density in order to comprehend and monitor pedestrian behaviour in city centres, with rouen as a case-study.


Geographic information system; GIS; GPS tracking; urban planning; urban design

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