Geography 222 Maps and Mapping Geog 222 Main Page and Course Description Geog 222 Syllabus Geog 222 Course Schedule Geog 222 Exercises

Geog 222 Exercise 4: Mapping & GIS Tools

Revised: 3/6/17

ASSIGNED in class Monday, October 9
DUE Friday, November 3 at 8:58 am

Exercise Worth: 50 pts

Geography 222 Library Resources for exercises.

Digital Submissions Guide for exercises and exams.


Maps on the WWW are available in many different forms: you can locate or order "real" paper maps (as in Exercise 2), or find digital copies of maps, or make maps "on-demand,"' view "live" maps that are updated constantly, and download and use free mapping software.

TIP on citing web maps with very long urls: Some of the URLs for WWW maps are extremely long, as they contain a bunch of information specifying the map you have requested. A useful way to create a shorter link to such sites entails using a 'link shortening' utility such as those found at TinyURL. Create a shorter link with one of these two sites, and use that URL rather than the long url in your citation of the map.

WARNING: Many WWW map sites depend on sophisticated WWW technology that can be slow or even break down. Expect delays and sites that are temporarily not working. You may also be using a computer or internet browser that is not compatible with a particular mapping WWW site. Be patient! If a site is not working well, revisit it at a different time or on a different computer. Given such potential problems, you should not attempt to do this exercise at the last minute. Contact the instructor at least a week before the due date if you are having persistent problems. Contact the instructor if you want assistance in completing this exercise!

1. WWW Map Generators (10 pts):

Map Generators reside on a computer server - a computer that allows you to run programs stored on it via the internet. Through a web browser and web site, you request a custom map (in essence, a map image). Among the earliest and most popular of such mapping and GIS tools are those that can locate an address or plot directions between several locations.

You have all used Google Maps, Bing Maps, etc. Beyond their basic utility, these sites allow anyone to map out additional data on top of the Google or Bing or whatever maps. Such combined map sources are typically called mashups, and we will create one in a future exercise.

For now, lets look at a couple of interesting map mashups with localized data.

2. WWW-based GIS (20 pts):

As an example of a typical online GIS, lets take a look at the Delaware County Auditor's online GIS site. Go to the Delaware County Online GIS site and click on Property Search. Lets check on a Delaware County property owner.

Non-Delaware County residents in the US: You may want to search the WWW and find out if your home county has a GIS site similar to Delaware's DALIS site. Usually such sites are associated with the county tax assessor - typically the County Auditor. Find your home county's official WWW page (this should not be a commercial site, but the official county web page), and look for a property information link. If you find one, search for information about a property owner (your parents? friends? relatives?).

FINALLY: Read up on the legal issues surrounding public records reviewed by Deb Peoples (below). Please ponder the consequences of making the kind of very specific property data available on the WWW. Discuss potential good and bad consequences of such data being so easily available. Remember, the law requires certain specific information to be made public. Just saying "I don't think it is a good idea" is not enough: explain why is it not a good idea (or why is it a good idea?).

Public Records

Keeping records is a duty of federal, state, and county offices.  Many records are Public Records.  In the state of Ohio, as in other states, both the types of records and the access to records that shall be maintained and considered Public are spelled out in law.  In Ohio, the law is contained in the Ohio Revised Code.

The applicable sections of the Ohio Revised Code include:

149.40 Only necessary records to be made

The head of each public office shall cause to be made only such records as are necessary for the adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency and for the protection of the legal and financial rights of the state and persons directly affected by the agency's activities.

149.43 Availability of public records

"Public record" means any record that is kept by any public office, including, but not limited to, state, county, city, village, township, and school district units.  However, some of these records are excluded from the definition of “public” such as adoption records, DNA records, and certain law enforcement investigatory records.

(B)(1) …All public records shall be promptly prepared and made available for inspection to any person at all reasonable times during regular business hours. Subject to division (B)(4) of this section, upon request, a public office or person responsible for public records shall make copies available at cost, within a reasonable period of time. In order to facilitate broader access to public records, public offices shall maintain public records in a manner that they can be made available for inspection in accordance with this division.

(3) Upon a request … a public office or person responsible for public records shall transmit a copy of a public record to any person by United States mail within a reasonable period of time after receiving the request for the copy. The public office or person responsible for the public record may require the person making the request to pay in advance the cost of postage and other supplies used in the mailing.

Selected Annotations to 149.43

  • Materials classified as public records are available for public inspection.
  • No cause of action exists for one’s inability to decipher a public record since the public records law requires that documents be copied or made available for inspection….A governmental unit is not required to create a new document to explain or facilitate review of public records already produced.
  • Appraisal cards which are kept by the office of the county auditor and which contain information used in the valuation and assessment of real property for the purposes of taxation are subject to public inspection.
  • The Role of the County Auditor

    This cover letter, written by the County Auditor as part of the annual Comprehensive Annual Financial Report clearly outlines both the role of the auditor in a rapidly growing county such as Delaware and the use of Geographic Information Systems.

    The Role of the County Recorder

    The County Recorder keeps records relating to real estate transactions, e.g. deeds, mortgages, liens, etc.  The county recorder must make the public records of that office available for inspection at all reasonable times during regular business hours and must make copies of such records available within a reasonable period of time.

    The Role of the County Treasurer

    The Treasurer collects all the money collected by the other departments in county government.

    What about Privacy and Public Records?

    Consider these aspects of employment by government entities:

    Is there a Right to Privacy?

    The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    USA Patriot Act of 2001

    In light of 9/11, Americans rapidly reassessed their position on privacy.  As a result the Patriot Act was passed October 25, 2001 with seemingly far reaching implications for privacy.  View the additional resources on the bottom of this American Library Association page for discussions of the impact of the Patriot Act on our society.

    3. WWW Real-time Maps and Images (15 pts):

    Real time maps and images differ from map generators and browsers in that they consist of maps continuously updated with data from diverse sources. These are, in essence, "live maps." If one is off line or not working, just skip it and try another.

    Be Critical!: I believe at least one of the maps below is fake - made to promote a service. Maybe more are... If you spot something suspicious, indicate it in your comments. If a site is not working, just try another.

    4. Free Mapping & GIS Software (5 pts):

    Because of the functional limitations of web-based mapping and expense of desktop GIS applications such as ArcGIS, several vendors are providing free downloadable GIS software, with links to data on the internet. Google Earth was among the first of these free mapping applications, most of which are considered to be Virtual Globes.

    5. Purchaseable Mapping and GIS software

    Exercise 4: Sum:

    Please format your exercise so that it reflects the different sections above. Include headers (eg., "1. WWW Map Generators") before each set of maps and answers. Turn in the 5 or so pages of typed answers to the questions, and include all requested maps/screen shots at appropriate locations (and appropriate size) in the document.


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