Friday, September 30, 2005

Hispanic Voter Population Projections in Texas to 2040

The very first spatial reserves project that I created here at UTA was an ArcIMS page entitled, "Hispanic Voter Population Projections in Texas to 2040". It is still being used each semester by 3 to 4 undergraduate political science classes. I consider it my Old Faithful.

If spatial reserves is a new catch-phrase for you, think of it as fast food GIS. We created an HTML template in ArcIMS, which is mostly a mashup of existing templates provided by ESRI and various free scripts available on the Arcscripts site. It was a bit of a hurdle to create the template, but once created, it is not much more than a few lines of edits to the ArcIMS parameters JavaScript file to create another instance of the template. For the students/users, it is theneasy as pie. They interact with the spatial data through the web.

Well, I am bringing this up now because the professor and I just submitted a proposal to publish a paper on our collaboration and how the concept of spatial reserves has helped his students to explore spatial datasets without having to learn to use GIS software.

For this particular project, I used Hispanic population projections from the Texas State Data Center and then the professor and I calculated the estimated portion of these projections that were eligible to vote (citizen above 18 years of age). I joined the results to a Texas county shapefile and plugged it into our template. Now students can analyze the effect of Hispanic voters on Texas politics in the ease of their comfy dorm-room chairs. It has been very popular and has even drawn some social science students to use ESRI software when they probably would not have even been exposed to GIS at all.

This is very similar to a paper I published last year, entitled "Faculty and their Institutional Librarians: Developing Labor Capital by Using GIS to Teach Social Science", page 21.

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