What is GIS?
This is probably the most asked question posed to those in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) field and is probably the hardest to answer in a succinct and clear manner. GIS is a technological field that incorporates geographical features with tabular data in order to map, analyze, and assess real-world problems. The key word to this technology is Geography – this means that some portion of the data is spatial. In other words, data that is in some way referenced to locations on the earth. Coupled with this data is usually tabular data known as attribute data. Attribute data can be generally defined as additional information about each of the spatial features. An example of this would be schools. The actual location of the schools is the spatial data. Additional data such as the school name, level of education taught, student capacity would make up the attribute data. It is the partnership of these two data types that enables GIS to be such an effective problem solving tool through spatial analysis.
GIS operates on many levels. On the most basic level, geographic information systems technology is used as computer cartography, that is for straight forward mapping. The real power of GIS is through using spatial and statistical methods to analyze attribute and geographic information. The end result of the analysis can be derivative information, interpolated information or prioritized information.
GIS has already affected most of us in some way without us even realizing it. If you’ve ever using an Internet mapping program to find directions, congratulations, you’ve personally used GIS. The new supermarket chain on the corner was probably located using GIS to determine the most effective place to meet customer demand.
How is GIS used at YDSP?
The GIS office, located within the Environmental & Natural Resources Department (ENRD), is primarily responsible for the maintenance, coordination and development of current and new spatial and non-spatial databases of Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo’s Geographic Information System. In addition, the GIS Division coordinates with internal and external entities related to Yselta del Sur Pueblo's GIS/GPS issues.
Within the ENRD, the GIS office has completed a number of maps to help illustrate project needs and locations within the Chilicote Ranch with growing projects related to the NRCS and USFWS grants. The GIS-prepared maps were used for planning the application of an herbicide to control for invasive shrubs (Creosote) and to provide for Pronghorn Antelope friendly fencing. The GIS office also provided important data on the fencing needs that the Ranch had with the southern neighbor, Viejas Ranch. Through GIS, an accurate analysis helped determine fencing needs and its location for Request for Proposal participants. Additional ongoing projects include tracking livestock pasture rotation use, supplemental feeding sites and the water trough enhancement inventory. It is also planned that the GIS office will be supporting efforts to track and assist planning improvements to Chilicote Ranch Roads.
The GIS Office also provides services and interdepartmental support to Pueblo agencies, and by coordinating and executing special projects with the Environmental Office, Tribal Attorney, Tribal Police Department, Emergency Management and others.
GIS and Capacity Building
Throughout the year, the GIS office participates in several approaches of capacity building: within the ENRD department, interdepartmentally with other Pueblo agencies, within the local and national GIS community, and most importantly, within the YDSP community. These efforts include:
- Participation within the local, national and Tribal GIS communities through meetings, conferences and other communications to progress knowledge and continue education of GIS.
- Train other personnel in the operation of GIS/GPS software, systems operations and map making, and empower these users to manage and update their data in an organized way.
- Develop curriculum and supervise GIS interns and Tribal youth through the Tigua Next Generation Summer Internship Program and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program.
- Develop and lead various communications, outreach, and education efforts for the Ysleta del Sur community.
Annually, the GIS office attends the ESRI International Users Conference (UC) in San Diego. Esri’s yearly user conference is the largest geospatial conference in the world. Over 15,000 professionals across industries attend the UC, representing nearly every commercial sector, government organization, and non-profit field. This abundance of user‐to‐user communication opportunities is essential for learning about real-life GIS experiences, best practices, and tips.
At the 2014 UC, Shanon Connelly, GIS Coordinator, and Gary Arriola, GIS Intern, submitted an entry in the Map Gallery, “Using Geocoding in ArcGIS to Improve Tribal Member Enrollment Records”. The map gallery submission can be viewed here.
For more information about GIS,
please contact the Environmental & Natural Resources Department at (915) 859-7913.