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Help - what is GIS?

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I seem to always come here first for answers. Not often, but always first.


I hike way more than I Geocache. I am a volunteer in a local state park. 37 square miles of desert mountain range, only 4 rangers to cover it. Having me patrolling the back-country really helps them.


I have mapped out many of the trails in the park on my GPS. The better hikes are listed on localhikes.com, look under TX-El Paso.


The park has asked me if I can provide them with my tracks for the state to make park maps from. They use something called GIS. The actual programs they use are not available in the field, the rangers could only tell me "GIS". They don't know more than that, I would need to go to the HQ to see the program.


What is GIS? Does anyone know of a SIMPLE way to convert .GPX (or .TPO) to whatever GIS uses? I don't even know what format GIS uses. I am more than willing to provide them my track logs, I just don't want to spend $100s getting a program I don't need for anything else. I can provide them the track logs in .GPX format or .TPO format, but I am not sure it would help.


Looks like it is time to learn something new - again.


Thanks Y-all. This forum is a great resource.

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GIS = geographic information system. They are probably using some flavor of ArcGIS. There are a couple of ways to convert the GPX track log to a shapefile, which is one of the more popular GIS file formats. They can use a program called GPS Utility or GPX2SHP to convert the GPX to a shapefile (.shp). The resulting shapefile will probably need to have its coordinate system defined in the GIS software; they should use a Geographic Coordinate System (not projected) and WGS84 or whatever datum you had your GPSr set for. If you have a Garmin, they could use DNRGarmin to bring your tracklog into the GIS software. I don't have a Garmin handheld, so I can't speak from experience there. BTW, all those programs are free. If you like, I can take a shot at converting your GPX files. Send me a private message with your contact info if you're interested. You can do these conversions yourself, but you'd need a way to check your output. There are a few free viewers and full-blown GIS programs, but that's just another program you'd have to download and mess with. I also don't know how willing the state parks GIS folks would be to convert your files, though it is probably something they should learn.

Edited by geognerd
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Hi Mike. I work in this field of Geographic Information System (GIS) and there are several ways to make use of your hard work gathering GPS tracklogs, all for free. I see from your profile you use Garmin GPSrs. Perfect. Two free programs to convert GPS track data to GIS format I use all the time are DNR Garmin and GPS Utility. DNR will interface with your Garmin(s) and directly export data to GIS format. I use this with my work to collect GIS data when an expensive conventional survey is not warranted to do exactly what you are describing. There is a learning curve of course but any technical geocacher type (like us) should have fun with it.


If you feel you need help I would be happy to assist you in converting your data to GIS shapefiles which would be the format the Parks folks could work with. Contact me thru my profile.


[ed] I see geognerd beat me to the punch while I typed :) .

Edited by Timpat
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WOW - lots of good data. Looks like I will be able to put this together for them. Thanks Y-all. I really do appreciate your info.


The only thing I dis-agreed with was:


Wikipedia. The answer is always there.


I once believed that. Wikipedia has some data from sources that are less than reliable for whatever reason. I have gotten to the point where I don't even think about Wikipedia any more.

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