Research Commons

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Author: Josh Sadvari (Geospatial Information Librarian, University Libraries) (page 1 of 9)

Save the Date: GIS Day 2020

GIS Day logo

GIS Day is an annual event for students, staff, faculty, and the broader community to learn more about Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and to celebrate the power of geospatial analysis and visualization in answering research questions and solving real-world problems. This year, GIS Day is happening on Wednesday, November 18, and we hope you’ll mark your calendars so you can participate. We’re excited to bring you a different kind of GIS Day experience this year and to tell you a bit about what we have in the works.

In the past, we’ve hosted in-person GIS Day events, but we decided early in the discussions about returning to campus for autumn semester that this would not be a good idea in 2020. The first important change for this year is that we’re going virtual!

A virtual GIS Day provides us with a great opportunity to broaden participation in the program. Another important change this year is that our GIS Day 2020 program will be a collaboration between The Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Cincinnati. Get ready for 3C GIS Day!

We’re in the early stages of planning, but we look forward to an exciting program that will include:

  • Lightning Talks
    • Learn about the application of geospatial technologies in a wide variety of disciplines from faculty, staff, students, and GIS professionals across Ohio’s 3C Corridor (Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati).
  • StoryMaps Showcase
    • We’re inviting any students, staff, and faculty affiliated with The Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Cincinnati to create and submit ArcGIS StoryMaps to showcase their work on GIS Day and beyond. More details about the StoryMaps Showcase will be coming soon!
  • Professional Networking
    • We will provide a venue for GIS professionals, researchers, and students from across Ohio to connect with one another and discuss experiences, opportunities, and current topics of interest in the world of geospatial.

Stay tuned for more information about 3C GIS Day in the coming weeks and months, and mark your calendars for a great event on November 18, 2020!

The 3C GIS Day planning committee includes Josh Sadvari and Katie Phillips (OSU), Ben Gorham (Case), and Amy Koshoffer (UC). If you have any questions about 3C GIS Day or are interested in participating and want to receive updates, please contact Josh and Katie at geospatial@osu.edu.

Your Guide to COVID-19 Data

Earlier in May, my colleague Lee-Arng Chang published an interesting post discussing a number of different COVID-19 data visualizations, which many of us have become increasingly familiar with over the last couple of months. With the number of COVID-19 data visualizations being produced, it should come as no surprise that there has been an equally marked increase in the number of COVID-19 datasets available to university researchers, public health professionals, and administrative officials to support critical work related to overcoming this pandemic and planning for what lies ahead.

Within the University Libraries, a number of my colleagues and I noticed that we were receiving questions from researchers across the university about COVID-19 datasets (primarily geospatial data, in my case) that could support their work, and at the same time, we were frequently learning about new datasets becoming available. We needed a place to gather this information and make it easily accessible to the Ohio State research community and beyond.

The result of this work is the new Data Sources page on the Health Science Library’s COVID-19 LibGuide. This resource provides links to, and short descriptions of, data sources that we’ve encountered that are openly available, on either a permanent or temporary basis. We’ve categorized the data to make browsing easier, with categories including Ohio, Public Health, Geospatial, Business & Socioeconomic, and General & Interdisciplinary, which includes links to a number of scholarly literature datasets available for text mining and other curated lists of data sources known to us. As we become aware of new datasets that could support ongoing work around COVID-19, the guide will be periodically updated.

OGRIP has developed the Ohio COVID-19 GIS Data Portal, a platform for accessing verified and authoritative data, maps and dashboards pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio.

Check out OGRIP’s Ohio COVID-19 GIS Data Portal, which provides access to verified and authoritative geospatial data to assist with Ohio’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. This is one of the many data sources included in the COVID-19 LibGuide.

But don’t stop at the Data Sources page. The team of Health Sciences librarians has done a great job collecting other relevant information on topics connected to COVID-19, including clinical guidance and articles, basic science articles, telemedicine resources, and available funding opportunities. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the guide, don’t hesitate to ask a librarian!

Want to suggest a COVID-19 dataset or other resource to add to the guide? Fill out this short form with your recommendation.

A big “Thank You” to Stephanie Schulte and Anna Biszaha for creating and maintaining the COVID-19 LibGuide, and to Hilary Bussell, Danny Dotson, and Ash Faulkner for recommending additional data sources to include on the guide.

New CADRE Fellowship Program for Coronavirus Research

The Collaborative Archive & Data Research Environment (CADRE) project has announced a new fellowship program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fellowship program, called the Research Cohort for the Study of Coronaviruses (RCSC) will accept researchers who are performing work related to COVID-19 or coronaviruses. There is currently no deadline for proposal submissions, and accepted researchers and research teams can begin their work immediately. See here to submit an RCSC research proposal form.

As an RCSC researcher, you can:

If you have questions about CADRE or the RCSC fellowship program, contact the team at cadre@iu.edu


The Ohio State University Libraries is a partner institution on the CADRE project, which means that all Ohio State researchers can access the platform to work with the Web of Science, Microsoft Academic Graph, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office datasets. Visit the Getting Started page on the CADRE website to learn more.

To sign in to the CADRE platform using your Ohio State credentials, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the CADRE gateway site, and click “Login.”
  2. Choose the option to “Sign in with your corporate ID” by clicking the “cilogon” button.
  3. Under “Select an Identity Provider,” choose “Ohio State University” in the dropdown menu. Check the box to “Remember this selection” (so you can bypass this step in the future), and click “Log On.”
  4. You will be redirected to the familiar Ohio State single sign-on screen, where you can log in with your name.# and password.
  5. Once logged in, you will land on the CADRE dashboard, with access to the Query Interface and Jupyter Notebook environments.

ArcGIS StoryMaps Workshop Now Available Online

During the spring semester, Katie Phillips (Outreach Coordinator, Center for Urban and Regional Analysis) and I have been working together to develop a workshop introducing Ohio State faculty, staff, and students to the possible uses of the new ArcGIS StoryMaps platform for research and teaching. We originally intended to offer this as an in-person session on March 31, but like many others across the university, have transitioned to instead provide an online learning opportunity.

Since all of this content is now available online, we wanted to open it up to anyone who might be interested in completing (or reusing) the exercise. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. The workshop is now intended as an asynchronous online exercise that can be completed at your own pace. We expect the exercise will take most people about an hour to complete. All of the content is accessible in BuckeyeBox here: go.osu.edu/storymaps-virtual. The theme of the workshop story map is the U.S. Census, and a completed version is available here for reference.
  2.  In BuckeyeBox, the ArcGIS StoryMaps Exercise folder contains the exercise instructions and all of the content you’ll be adding to your story map. Start with the StoryMaps_Exercise_20200331 document. The other files are referenced in the appropriate task within the exercise instructions. All of the files are available for download.
  3. The Additional Resources folder contains documents that may be useful for planning your own projects and assignments, along with a list of links to other available resources and relevant online training.
  4. We intend to keep these materials publicly available on BuckeyeBox and ArcGIS Online, until at least August 31, 2020If you are an instructor looking for an asynchronous activity to assign to your students as part of the spring semester online transition (and possibly beyond), please feel free to reuse this activity as is or to modify it to best fit your course needs. The exercise instructions and task content files are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. If you would like to reuse this activity and have any questions before doing so, please contact me at sadvari.1@osu.edu.
  5. For all Ohio State affiliates, task 1 in the exercise will walk you through the process of creating/signing in to an ArcGIS Online organizational account tied to your OSU name.# and password. For anyone not affiliated with OSU, you should be able to work through the exercise in its entirety if you have an ArcGIS Online organizational account through your place of work. If you are not an OSU affiliate and you are also not part of another ArcGIS Online organization, you should be able to complete most of the activity (with the exception of a few steps related to adding specific types of content) using an ArcGIS Online public account, which you can create here: https://www.esri.com/en-us/arcgis/products/create-account.
  6. If you encounter any issues or have any questions as you work through this activity, please do not hesitate to reach out to Katie (phillips.1870@osu.edu) and myself (sadvari.1@osu.edu). If after the exercise, you would like to speak more about using ArcGIS StoryMaps for your own projects, please let us know how we can help. We’re both available for virtual consultations and would look forward to hearing from you!

Accessing ArcGIS at Home for Teaching, Learning, and Research

As students return to classes and adjust to the transition to virtual learning, many may have questions about how to access software necessary to complete assignments or continue their research. In my role as Geospatial Information Librarian, I often work with students, staff, and faculty utilizing the ArcGIS suite of products to make maps and carry out spatial analysis for research and education purposes. In this post, I will highlight several options for those individuals to access ArcGIS from home so that they may try to continue those efforts.

How can I access ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro?

Under our Esri educational site license, Ohio State affiliates are able to download and install ArcGIS Desktop and/or ArcGIS Pro on their personal Windows devices for research and education. The Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA) has done a great job of creating documentation for OSU affiliates interested in downloading one or both of these products. In particular, see the “Get Started” documentation for step-by-step instructions for downloading and installing these programs on your own device. If you’re unsure if your device will be able to support use of these programs, you can review the system requirements for ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro on the Esri website.

What if I don’t have Windows?

For Mac users, Esri has created these recommendations for running ArcGIS Pro within a Windows environment using Boot Camp or Parallels. Another option would be to download and install QGIS, which is a well-established, free and open source desktop GIS that runs natively on Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. For the vast majority of desktop GIS use cases, QGIS is a strong alternative to ArcGIS, and new users can get up to speed by completing relevant lessons in the QGIS Training Manual.

Is there a web-based option?

Yes, another cross-platform solution that does not require any software installation would be to use ArcGIS Online. Ohio State affiliates are able to sign up for a free account to access OSU’s ArcGIS Online organization, and the documentation from CURA provides step-by-step instructions. While not as robust as any of the desktop GIS options discussed above in terms of analytical capabilities, ArcGIS Online is the industry leader when it comes to web-based GIS. ArcGIS Online is a very solid option for users looking to create interactive maps (2D) and scenes (3D) and perform some of the more common spatial analysis tasks, or who may be using a tablet as their primary device.

Who should I contact if I need help?

If you have questions or experience any issues when downloading and installing ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Pro or when accessing ArcGIS Online, email the OSU Esri Support team at esri-support@osu.edu. If you have any other GIS and mapping related questions, including how to carry out specific tasks in any of the GIS programs discussed above, please feel free to contact me at sadvari.1@osu.edu. Like many others in the university community and beyond, I’m going to be working from home, but I’ll still be available for virtual consultations to support your work.

For those interested in resources for troubleshooting and self-paced training, I highly recommend bookmarking the ArcGIS documentation website and checking out the free lessons available in the Learn ArcGIS gallery.

What if I don’t have a device?

The options discussed above all assume that you will have access to a personal device appropriate for using a desktop or web-based GIS (and reliable internet access), which I know will not be the case for all of our affiliates and students. If you are a student concerned about not having access to the technology needed for completing your course assignments, the best person for you to speak with is your instructor so you can see what options might be available.

If you have a device, but not one capable of supporting the system requirements of a desktop GIS, please contact researchcommons@osu.edu with a brief description of the software you need and what you will be using it for (course assignments, research, etc.). While we are currently unsure if it would be possible, our team is evaluating what options might exist for us to provide remote access to some of the more intensive and heavily-utilized software programs that we would otherwise offer in the Research Commons computer lab. As part of the evaluation, it is important for us to know what kind of demands and use cases would exist for this kind of support.

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