GIS-An Introduction

You may have used Mapquest or Yahoo! Maps to find an address or directions. If so, you’ve used a Geographical Information System. Mapquest and Yahoo! Maps are only a small tip of the iceberg when it comes to GIS and its potential. We’re going to look at different GIS websites and eventually have you make your own map using a GIS program that we have on the ILP lab computers.
Let’s start by looking at some Sacramento maps that use GIS:

Property Management

Using the Property Map at . Use Help in the upper right hand corner to find out how the tools work.

Find the tax bill for the five buildings, such as :

-Natomas Charter School (4600 Blackrock Drive)

-the apartment complex across the street from the school

- a shopping center near you

- your home (if you live in Sacramento)

Give the street, parcel #, and tax amount for each property.

Code Enforcement:

The Code Enforcement maps let you find and create maps on this site that show sites where abandoned vehicles, unsafe and dangerous buildings, graffiti, zoning violations and code violations have been reported. Below the map, you can use map sets to select User Defined maps or pre-defined maps already done for you.


Use these tools to identify:

-the areas that appear to have the greatest number of problems in each area (vandalism, grafitti, abandoned vehicles, etc.)

- areas that you feel are relatively free of problems

City Improvement

The City Improvement site provides information on different types of city improvement projects. Click on Map Layers in the left hand menu to see all of the layers. You can turn them on and off by clicking in the left hand button and CLICKING ON REFRESH. Without selecting REFRESH, you don’t see your selections. Take a look at North Natomas, either using the Layers menu or with the top button. Click on Identify All and click on the red dots. Make a list of ten improvement projects that you find and their locations:

Click on the hyperlinks within the project to see what other information you can find out more information (Apparently if you ask for an something that doesn't apply to the page, you will get a "bad page" report. Change the data request and try again!:)

Crime GIS

The Sacramento Police Department GIS enables you to investigate crime in a neighborhood that you are interested in. Another big city crime GIS is Oakland, which you can use if Sacramento P.D.'s site is down. Go to This is a fairly complicated map that contains a lot of data. Be patient, but report any problems you have with the site since applications also have to load on your machine to use it. (If you are at home, it won’t be an issue. At school, we’d like to know what we need to do to get this to work!)

Now see if there have been any methamphetamine labs near your home. Go to the Valley Methamphetamine page and click on the binoculars icon to get a map of your area. How close is the nearest lab? How many labs have there been within ten miles of your home?

Imagine you are a rookie policeman, just out of the Academy. New cops always get sent to the roughest part of town. Using this crime map, answer the question: Where is a rookie cop likely to be sent?

Written Answers:

For this week, you should have the following:

  • Property Map: Tax bill information for five parcels

  • Code Enforcement Map: Problem areas and problem free areas

  • Improvement Projects: Ten improvement projects in North Natomas

  • Your determination of the area a rookie cop would be assigned to.

  • Distance to the closest methamphetamine lab and number of labs within ten miles of your home.

You've been introduced to a small part of GIS. GIS is used for tracking African elephants, toxic waste sites, effects of global warming, forest fires, and a myriad of other subjects. For now, you are going to use GIS to learn more about your neighborhood and a neighborhood where you'd like to live. Click on the link below for next week's task:

Go to Webquest