Reconfiguring the “Region” Using Qualitative Geographic Information Systems (QGIS)

Authors: Kirsten Greer*, Nipissing University, Megan Prescott, Nipissing University
Topics: Historical Geography, Regional Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: HGIS, QGIS, Fieldwork Methods, Northern Ontario
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Studio 7, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This presentation examines the value of small-scale, qualitative field data in contribution to the overall understanding of “region” through the use of web-based geographic information systems (GIS). A case study of Nipissing University’s Centre for Understanding Semi-Peripheries (CUSP)’s project “Reconfiguring the Region” is presented, which examines Robert S. Platt’s research trajectory in Northern Ontario based on his 1934 field excursion from Moosonee to Toronto. Platt shaped the subfield of regional geography as an advocate for the intensive field study of small-scale geographical areas to support large-scale regional generalizations. Field notes, as well as photographs of the 1934 excursion housed at the American Geographical Society Library (AGSL), are geotagged and overlain with contemporary satellite imagery to visualize a transect of the case study using the platforms of ESRI’s Web App Builder and Story Maps. The advantage of web-based GIS is to incorporate qualitative data (photographs, field notes, postcards) in visualization that supports broader theoretical generalizations on the interrelation of landforms and human occupancy, through a medium that fosters easy dissemination, data exploration, and user-software interaction. Platt’s past research trajectories and personal history are additionally integrated into the prototype, which allows users to explore the development of his field approach alongside the detailed example of his 1934 case study in Northern Ontario. The ability of interactive, qualitative GIS to incorporate spatial data and narratives is used to achieve greater depth than quantitative GIS or written medium alone, supporting large-scale generalizations with detailed components much like Platt’s own “Field Approach to Regions”

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