Spatial Statistics with Geographic Information Systems

Spatial Statistics with Geographic Information Systems

taught by David Unwin


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Aim of Course:

Spatial analysis often uses methods adapted from conventional analysis to address problems in which spatial location is the most important explanatory variable. This online course, "Spatial Statistics with Geographic Information Systems," is directed particularly to students with backgrounds in either computing or statistics but who lack a background in the necessary geospatial concepts. Spatial Statistics with Geographic Information Systems will explain and give examples of the analysis that can be conducted in a geographic information system such as ArcGIS or Mapinfo. The motivation is simple: it is one thing to run a GIS, but quite another to use it analytically to help answer questions such as:

  • Is there an unusual cluster of crimes/cases of a disease here that we need to worry about?
  • Do these data show variation across the country that I need to know about?
  • What is the most probable air temperature here?
This course may be taken individually (one-off) or as part of a certificate program.
Course Program:

WEEK 1: Some Basics:

  • geographical data
  • statistics
  • describing spatial data using maps

WEEK 2: The Analysis of Patterns in Point Data:

  • introductory methods for detecting non-randomness in dot/pin map distributions

WEEK 3: The Analysis of Patterns in Area Data:

  • detecting and measuring spatial autocorrelation in lattice data

WEEK 4: The Analysis of Continuous Field Data:

  • creating contour-type maps using inverse distance weighting and geostatistical methods

Note that the course does not concentrate on the analysis of spatially continuous data using methods that are collectively referred to as geostatistics. Lesson 4 has a brief introduction to the basic concepts as used in interpolation, but this is all.


In this course the homework is a mixture of some simple exercises and consists of guided data analysis problems using public domain software.

In addition to assigned readings, this course also has an end of course data modeling project, and supplemental video lectures.

Spatial Statistics with Geographic Information Systems

Who Should Take This Course:
Analysts and researchers who need to know how to use and interpret the data from Geographic Information Systems (GIS's), including those in environmental analysis and management, banking, insurance, logistics, law enforcement services, defense, media, real estate, retail and more.
Organization of the Course:

This course takes place online at the Institute for 4 weeks. During each course week, you participate at times of your own choosing - there are no set times when you must be online. Course participants will be given access to a private discussion board. In class discussions led by the instructor, you can post questions, seek clarification, and interact with your fellow students and the instructor.

At the beginning of each week, you receive the relevant material, in addition to answers to exercises from the previous session. During the week, you are expected to go over the course materials, work through exercises, and submit answers. Discussion among participants is encouraged. The instructor will provide answers and comments, and at the end of the week, you will receive individual feedback on your homework answers.

Time Requirement:
About 15 hours per week, at times of  your choosing.

Options for Credit and Recognition:
Students come to the Institute for a variety of reasons. As you begin the course, you will be asked to specify your category:
  1. No credit - You may be interested only in learning the material presented, and not be concerned with grades or a record of completion.
  2. Certificate - You may be enrolled in PASS (Programs in Analytics and Statistical Studies) that requires demonstration of proficiency in the subject, in which case your work will be assessed for a grade.
  3. CEUs and/or proof of completion - You may require a "Record of Course Completion," along with professional development credit in the form of Continuing Education Units (CEU's).  For those successfully completing the course,  CEU's and a record of course completion will be issued by The Institute, upon request.
  4. Other options - Specializations, INFORMS CAP recognition, and academic (college) credit are available for some courses

Specializations are an easy way for you to demonstrate mastery of a specific skill in statistics and analytics. This course is part of the Spatial Analytics Specialization which gives a deep dive into analyzing location and geospatial data.  Take any three of the four courses on this topic (this course, plus the courses listed to the right under "related courses," not including conferences).  For savings, use the promo code "spatial-specialization" and register for all three courses at once for  $1197 ($399 per course, not combinable with other tuition savings).  If you register for all four, you'll still receive the discounted rate.

College credit:
Spatial Statistics with Geographic Information Systems has been evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE) and is recommended for the upper-division baccalaureate degree category, 3 semester hours in spatial statistics or geospatial analysis. Note: The decision to accept specific credit recommendations is up to each institution. More info here.

This course is also recognized by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) as helpful preparation for the Certified Analytics Professional (CAP®) exam, and can help CAP® analysts accrue Professional Development Units to maintain their certification .
Course Text:

The required text for this course is Geographic Information Analysis, 2nd revised edition by O'Sullivan, D. and Unwin,D. J.


Under no circumstances should you purchase a so-called 'supplement' from a company called CRAM 101 which may well show up at the same website.

As and where necessary, the instructor has also prepared additional comments to extend the materials or point to newer work that you should know about. Students unfamiliar with basic GIS concepts might also like to consult: Geographic Information Systems and Science, 3rd Edition, by Paul A. Longley, Mike Goodchild, David J. Maguire, and David W. Rhind, ISBN 978-0-470-72144-5.

The course also features added homework assignments that use some public domain software to perform the analyses. Each of the assignments for Lessons 2-4 makes use of software that you can download without paying a commercial license fee. The intention here is not to replace analyses that are available in whatever GIS it is that you run, and if it suits you better then please use it. For pedagogic reasons the instructor prefers to use these rather more educationally oriented systems. In themselves these systems are useful for learning about spatial analysis in GIS without the need to purchase a full GIS. Two things follow from this. First, students must be prepared to spend time downloading, installing and running these three systems (CrimeStat III, GeoDa and 3DField). For information on obtaining Crimestat and GeoDa, click here. All the assignments are also easily run using a fully-functional system such as ArcGIS and advice on how to do this will be given.


To be scheduled.

Spatial Statistics with Geographic Information Systems


To be scheduled.

Course Fee: $589

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