Introduction to QGIS Workshop

By Gabriel McKee

Yesterday, the ISAW Library hosted an introductory training workshop for QGIS, an open-source software platform for working with geospatial data. The session was led by NYU's Data Services Specialist Stephen Balogh, who guided ISAW students, faculty, staff, and researchers through the basics of this versatile program.

The tutorial covered GIS basics, QGIS software and its interface, GIS resources at NYU, how to create a thematic map, numerous methods to visualize spatial data in a thematic map, and how to import existing GIS datasets into a QGIS project. As an open-source program, QGIS is free to install and use, and independent developers have created dozens of easy-to-install plug-ins to expand its capabilities. 

Because QGIS is a complex program with a wide array of capabilities, a single session can only scratch the surface of what the program is capable of doing. We covered the basics in yesterday's session, but as with all digital tools, the best way to learn it is to continue working with it and testing its capabilities. Developers and users have created an extensive library of documentation that can build on the basics that we learned in yesterday's workshop.

Particularly useful are a series of QGIS tutorials created by Ujaval Gandhi. This collection of step-by-step, screenshot-rich tutorials teaches you everything you need to know about a wide range of basic and advanced techniques for mapping and analysis.

Another excellent resource is the NYU Spatial Data Repository, which contains a wealth of geospatial data, shapefiles, and more. In addition to the SDR itself, NYU's Data Services department has created a GIS research guide with links to additional resources. Data Services also offers introductory classes in other GIS tools, as well as one-on-one consultations for more detailed GIS problems. They've even made the presentation slides  from yesterday's introductory workshop available.

QGIS is a powerful tool for working with geospatial data about the ancient world, and we look forward to seeing what the members of the ISAW community can do with it.