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Introduction to Geospatial Data for the Data Scientist (Online)

February 14 @ 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

This course is being offered in collaboration between the Odum Institute and the Center for Urban & Regional Studies.


This one day course will be offered via Zoom. Attendance is required as the course will not be recorded.

Course Summary:
This course offers a broad introduction into the use of geospatial data in data science applications. The course will be highly focused on what makes geospatial data different from other types of data and what these differences imply for using and applying geospatial data. The course materials will be built for non-geospatial professionals who find themselves needing to use geospatial data effectively.

Why Take This Course:
The availability and uses of geospatial data have been growing for decades. Recently, with the advent of robust web-mapping and dynamic client-side web tools many data analysts, applications programmers, web developers, and data scientists of all types have been confronted with geospatial data without having a background in geography or Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This course will ground students in fundamental concepts of geospatial data science, geospatial computing, and geospatial applications so they can be more efficient and accurate in using geospatial data in their daily jobs.

Participants will learn about:
• Basics of map projections and the use of projected and un-projected geospatial data;
• How issues of scale, precision, and accuracy affect applications of geospatial data;
• Geospatial data models and the main ways geospatial data is presented in computer form;
• Key open-source and commercial off-the-shelf applications that handle geospatial data.

Basic computer skills. An understanding of tools such as spreadsheets, relational database management systems (RDMS), and programming will be beneficial, but not required.

Instructor: William Wheaton

William D. Wheaton is a geographer and senior geospatial consultant with more than 30 years of experience applying geographic information systems (GIS) technology in environmental and social science research. Mr. Wheaton was a senior instructor at Environmental Systems Research Institute from 1984-1992, and from 1993 to 2018 held several geospatial positions at RTI International, including senior geospatial scientist and director of the Geospatial Science and Technology program. He currently co-leads the Geospatial Working Group and is a senior analyst and consultant for the Data Analysis Center component of NIH’s Environmental influences on Child Health outcomes (ECHO) project.

Registration fees:

  • UNC Chapel Hill Students: $0, with a $35 deposit to hold your spot (deposit is refundable upon your attendance for at least 66% of the course)
  • UNC Chapel Hill Faculty/Staff/Postdoc/Resident/Visiting Scholars: $80
  • Non-UNC Chapel Hill University Student/Employee (must have active university email): $105
  • Government/Non-Profit/Corporate: $130

Additional course information:

  • Registration will close at 12:01am 2/11/24. No late registrations will be accepted.
  • Cancellation/ Refund Policy: A full refund will be given to those who cancel their registration no later than 10 days prior to the course. If you cancel within the 10 days prior to the class, no refund will be given. Please allow 30 days to receive your refund.
  • Zoom link for those attending online will be sent prior to the course. Registration must be made at least 3 days prior to the course date to receive the Zoom link.


For questions regarding this class, please contact Jill Stevens at


February 14
9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Event Category:


NC United States