Cartography and Geographic Information Analysis
The Department of Cartography and Geographic Information Analysis (DCAIG) is responsible for teaching courses in cartography and geographic information at the ENSG. In addition to teaching how to use GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and the most popular mapping software, the DCAIG focuses on developing expertise in spatial data processing and management. Through joint agreements with other institutions of higher learning, this department plays a major role in developing the geographic information sciences in France.
There are three main categories of courses offered here :
Geographic Information Systems ;
The DCAIG’s staff is also frequently called upon to teach in other schools and universities. They occasionally participate as consultants on foreign assignments, such as in Libya (2008) or Serbia (2009).
In addition to its fundamental role in all of ENSG’s courses of study, the DCAIG is particularly in charge of organizing all the school’s classes in both cartography courses of study: GIS and Cartographic Design (SIGCC) and Geomatics and Cartography (GEC), as well as in the Specialized Masters (SM) in the Architecture of Geographic Information Systems (ASIG). The DCAIG also oversees two joint graduate degrees: a Master of Science (MSc) in GIS, Cartographic Design, Geomatics and Cartography (Master Carthagéo) and another 2nd year professional Master of Engineering (MEng) degree in Sustainable Development, Environmental Management and Geomatics (DDMEG) with the University of Paris I. There is also a 2nd year professional Master of Engineering (MEng) in Geomatics jointly offered with three other engineering schools (Master Géomatique).
Geographic information is information linked to a point or a region on the Earth’s surface. This link can be defined in several ways : coordinates, an address, the name of a country, a postal code, etc.
Geomatics is the branch of Computer science which manipulates geographic information, particularly when the geolocalization is defined by geometrical coordinates.
A GIS (Geographic Information System) is software used to manipulate geographic information. The GIS usually has 5 feature classes :
Abstraction : the GIS offers a model of the real world in a synthesized, often hierarchical view ;
Acquisition : the GIS is used to capture geographic data ;
Storage : to distribute, sell or share data, and to integrate it into a great number of different types of software ;
Display : geographic data are usually represented on a screen in 2D, but sometimes with 3D viewing methods ;
Analysis : the GIS can be used to cross information from different sources to produce new knowledge.
The DCAIG offers courses on the three most popular GISs used in France : MapInfo, ArcGIS et GeoConcept. In practical training sessions, students can learn how to use almost any GIS available on the market today, from the numerous types of commercial software to free software such as GeoMedia, Map3D, FME, Grass, QGIS, etc.
A quick sketch is worth a thousand words : mapmaking is the art of making geographic information intelligible in the form of an image that has both meaning and beauty. Cartographic savoir-faire, formerly altogether manual, has been transformed by computerization and the introduction of tools which can improve the craftsman’s productivity while maintaining the same degree of high quality.
Cartography is therefore a discipline at the crossroads of several others : Visual Arts, Vision studies, Physical and Human Geography, Statistics, Geomatics and Computer science.
The volume of Geographic information available on the internet is constantly increasing.
With sites like Google Earth and ViaMichelin, the internet has become the most popular way for the public-at-large to access geographic information and the world of GIS. Road navigation sites with the introduction of the GPS have simply reinforced this trend.
Behind these public sites, there is a whole range of techniques linked to the internet that students must discover and learn to operate : Web Services, cartographic APIs, map and clients, spatial database management systems. All these technologies are studied from the point of view of data management, but also design and processing.
Most recently, there have been new applications set up to exploit the potential of combining a GPS with a cellphone.
As of July 1, 2009, the DCAIG included 8 staff members :
(Illustrator, Dry, MapPublisher)