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Data Collection & Analysis

by on Jul 20th, 2010

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Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has continued to increase in Belize over the past years. To date no one has found a definition that satisfies everyone. GIS is most commonly defined as any of various software applications, running on a PC or Workstation that captures, manipulates, analyses, stores, and displays layers of geographically-referenced data. While there are many different types of software used in the office place today for drafting, database management, and graphic design, they are not considered to be GIS because they are not able to perform spatial queries and answer questions relating to locations, condition, trends and patterns. The power of GIS lies in its ability to manage spatial relationship over time.

The Coastal Zone Management Institute manages a large amount of data, both tabular and geographical in nature. Geographic Information Systems (GISs) have most often employed vector data because, its flexibility allows users to easily attach attributes and perform queries and calculations. However, with the introduction of high-quality georeferenced raster images, GIS designers are increasingly incorporating raster layers to visually enhance their systems and provide a Geographic Information System with the benefits of vector data combined with the visual impact of raster images.

The Data Center acts as an integral supporting arm for the Coastal Zone Management Institute. The functions of the Centre is to develop and maintain a Geographic Information System, that is capable of analyzing data, both spatial and non spatial data. The Centre is equipped with the latest GIS and Remote Sensing software and hardware such as ERSI software products, a 48 inches SummagridV Digitizing Tablet and a Hewlett Packard Design Jet 1055cm plotter.

At this time when Belize’s population is increasing and tourism is soaring, natural resource managers are discovering the power of GIS. In 1995 when the Coastal Zone Management Unit of the Fisheries Department was established, GIS was chosen as the tool to help in managing the coastal zone of Belize. Today GIS is helping the Coastal Zone Management Institute (CZMI), Government, and Non-Government Organizations in Belize, in finding common ground, by providing a framework for the analysis of resource management data. The technical staff at the CZMI is using GIS as an aid to monitor trends and assist in the making of critical decisions. Patterns and critical habitats are easily identifiable by integrating both spatial and non-spatial data into our GIS, where it is organized, analyzed, and spatially displayed (mapped).

GIS enables the development of such scenarios that can test static as well as dynamic hypotheses about resource use, changes and alternatives given model inputs and outputs. This allows for different options to be studied in a cost-effective and non-hazardous manner. GIS provides a powerful visual aid to both technical and non-technical audiences in developing a better understanding of the issues/problems facing us today.

The Data Centre stores all spatial and attribute data derived under the different technical/research units of the Institute. Among the most used and requested corporate layers of the Institute are the Coastal Protected Areas of Belize, the Marine Habitat, for the entire coastal area and the Manatee Sightings layer. A complete listing of all GIS layer/coverage that exist in the Data Centre is available at the CZMAI main office.

Please click on a question to view its answer.

  1. What is GIS an abbreviation for?
  2. What is it?
  3. What does it do?
  4. How is the data managed within a GIS?
  5. How does it differ from a conventional database?
  6. What are some of the uses of GIS for CZMAI?

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