UCLA Labor Center

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

GIS is an ensemble of geographic and tabular data. GIS supports geographical data analysis. GIS  software allows analysis and presentation of spatial data, incorporated in one integrated system. GIS programs can capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial data. This type of data analysis is particularly useful for enivornmental, demographic, suitability, and transportation-related research.  You will find (free) open access software and resources below.

Video Resources

                  Introduction                                             Get Inspired

                  GIS in Action                         Introduction to Mapumental

    Introduction to Grass GIS             Introduction to Google Earth GIS

GIS Tools and Programs (open access)

GRASS (Geographic Resources Analysis Support System) is a free and open source Geographic Information System (GIS) software suite used for geospatial data management and analysis, image processing, graphics and map production, spatial modeling, and 3D visualization. GRASS GIS can be used either as a stand-alone application or as backend for other software packages such as QGIS and R geostatistics. It is a founding member of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation.

Use this digital tool to identify the latitude and longitude coordinates of any location in the world.  This is especially useful when you’re building a digital map but are missing coordinates to create  your map. 

Work for a nonprofit?  Google Earth has free GIS tools and resources for nonprofits, including: the exploration of geographical content, satellite data manipulation, and the ability to build customized maps. 

This digital tool allows you to map tweets from their location. You can search for tweets according to a specific topic and then digitally map the location of the tweets.   

This is a free app supports the digital mapping of your data and has thousands of maps for you to choose from.


GIS in Action

The Community Labor Environment Action Network (CLEAN) Carwash Campaign supports safer, humane and quality working conditions for carwash workers with worker organizing at our core.  The campaign utilized GIS data to map which carwashes were compliant with their standards.  

This easy-to-use, interactive data hub, presented by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, provides a demographic snapshot of the foreign-born population by county in the United States.

How many foreign-born live in your county or the counties in which you fund? What percentage live at or below the federal poverty level? How many speak English less than very well? What regions of the world are they from? You can use this resource to look at key demographic indicators for the foreign-born in your communities and help gain a better understanding of their unique needs.

In December 2010, a man in Tunisia burned himself to death in protest at his treatment by police. The timeline traces an extraordinary year as pro-democracy rebellions erupted across the Middle East.  You can use the timeline slider to explore the history of protests and each icon provides you more information about the protests.

San Francisco Crimespotting is an interactive map of crimes in San Francisco, California, and a better way of understanding crime in cities. Our map view is completely explorable – it’s possible to pan and zoom, select date ranges in the past, and view specific kinds of crimes. You can also share links directly to a particular view of the map, which is important for sharing and publishing information. If you don’t have the required Flash plug-in to view the interactive map, we have a browseable crime database with maps in image form for combinations of dates and types of crime.

On December 15, 2011, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, Carol Block, Hitoshi Abe and Yoh Kawano toured the disaster zones around Sendai.  This is a narrative of their journey through these areas nine months after the earthquake tsunami ravaged the region.  

“951 cities in 82 countries” has become the standard definition of the scale of the Occupy protests around the world, following on from the Occupy Wall Street and Madrid demonstrations that have shaped public debate in the past month.

This map demonstrates exactly where protests have taken place as part of the Occupy movement – and see exactly what is happening where around the globe.

Download Additional Resources Here

(2013). Introduction to GIS [Powerpoint Slides]. Retrieved from https://www.labor.ucla.edu/wp ontent/uploads/2015/03/intro_gis-1.ppt

In this powerpoint presentation, you will learn what Geographic Information System (GIS) is and what can you do with this spatial analysis tool. You will also be introduced to three keywords you should know when using GIS. Additionally, you will be introduced to the GIS inteface.

Rantanen, H., & Kahila, M. (2008). The SoftGIS Approach to Local Knowledge. Journal of Environmental Management, 90, 1981-1990. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.08.025  

The aim of the SoftGIS approach is to support urban planning processes and decision-making. SoftGIS aims to present a more comprehensive understanding of local knowledge. This is realized by the mapping of local knowledge and its integration into urban planning practices. SoftGIS is a multidisciplinary approach where different Internet- and GIS-based methods are developed to gather and process local knowledge. In this article we present the theoretical background to the SoftGIS approach as well as two case studies.

In this study, the authors present a set of tools that try to address different issues relating to spatial analysis. This study is intended to help those interested to study, explore and model processes that express themselves through a distribution in space. This spatial analysis is used to measure properties and relationships by taking into account the spatial localization of the phenomenon under study. By using GIS, the researcher can spatially visualize variables, present a colored map that allows the visualization of the spatial pattern of the interested phenomenon, and used to translate the existing patterns into objective and measurable considerations. Additionally, this study presents the main concepts of the spatial geographic data analysis and the main types of data and its computational representations. It is important to consider the user’s point of view, and it is important to note that there is no one correct model to use in researching the interested phenomenon.