Mapping your Neighborhood

Abu Badruddin, Cayuga Community College, Auburn, NY
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Many students don't know much about the environmental resources and locations of designated hazardous sites in and around their own neighborhood. This exercise challenges the students to learn more about their places where they live and explore the environment beyond the surrounding parks and trees. In this exercise student will explore geospatial data to locate and map the college campus, sources of water supply, destination of campus waste, and EPA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) sites. Simple analysis in a GIS will be conducted to determine the proximity of the TRI sites to water resources and the college. A follow up activity will analyze the geographic proximity between demographic groups and pollution sources within the county where the college is located.

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Learning Goals

At the conclusion of this exercise students will be able to:
1. Explore the information about polluters from on line resources
2. Visualize and analyze the spatial distribution of hazardous sites in relation to other environmental and physical resources.
3. Find spatial association, if any, between critical environmental resources and pollution sites.
4. Identify any environmental injustice in the community

Context for Use

This exercise consists of a lecture/discussion and a lab activity designed for a computer lab with access to internet and ArcGIS software. The lecture part will mainly address the key concepts regarding environment, justice, environmental equity, environmental racism, pollution, top polluters, county ranking in air, water, and land release of pollutants, etc.
The lecture will be followed by one or two hands on exercises in data downloading, manipulation, analysis, and creating output in a map format using ArcGIS from ESRI. This exercise is designed for students with introductory skills in using GIS. Lab time should be at least 3 hours divided into two separate sessions in a week.

Description and Teaching Materials

Students will be given reading assignment on specific topics such as environment, sources of pollution, justice, environmental equity, and environmental racism, etc.

Teaching Notes and Tips

For the best use of lab time, instructors are encouraged to do a practice of the entire lab activity by themselves before handing it out to the students in order to identify any booby traps or tricks associated with data downloading and analysis process both outside and within the GIS software. It might be a good idea to demonstrate the the process of how to download a particular data type and the sequence of steps needed to display the data in ArcGIS.


Assessment will be based on class participation and the lab output that will include the following:
An outline of college campus along with the following on your map template:
- County boundary with an inset map of NY state
- Major road network
- Location of drinking water source & waste sites
- TRI sites in the county with a one mile buffer around each

References and Resources

Reading Resources:

Data Source: