Geographic Information Science and the CED
Although all designers and planners are somewhat familiar with the technology known as geographic information systems, the field of Geographic Information Science (GIScience) has grown tremendously in the last decade, becoming popular among academic communities and expanding into many disciplines and professions.  

What is GIScience?

Geographic information is facts about specific places and their associations with other places on the earth's surface. Although this information has traditionally been characterized as maps, which are often embedded in collections, books, or atlases, it is also common to find spatial characteristics encoded as text, tables, or images. A compiled table of names and addresses constitutes one form of geographic data, while aerial photographs or satellite remote sensing from space form another. The term geographic information science has recently emerged as the field in which problems of data capture, encoding, storage, analysis, retrieval, synthesis, and dissemination of geographic information are studied. Although GIScience is in no way dependent on a digital environment (even Sir Isaac Newton edited some literature involving the science), tremendous advances in computer technology have made access possible, easy, and affordable. New computer-based technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS), digital remote sensing (RS), and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have emerged and are now becoming popular among planners, landscape architects, and urban designers. The penetration of digital technology into our everyday lives has aided in the rapid deployment and acceptance of these technologies appearing to ensure ubiquity of geographic information into the next century.

--prepared by John Radke, Associate Professor of City & Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning; Director, Geographic Information Science Center

Environmental Planning and Science

Starting in the early 1970s, the Department of Landscape Architecture made a conscious effort to build ties to the professional schools and scientific disciplines needed to support science-based planning and decision making.  Key developments in this cross-campus and cross-disciplinary discourse include:

·        Professor Ira Michael Heyman (Law and City & Regional Planning) joining Professor Robert Twiss in teaching the graduate the graduate planning course. Heyman later became Berkeley’s Chancellor.

·        Professor Edward Stone of the Department of Forestry contributed in the area of Plant Community Ecology; this led to the later joint appointment with Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM) and of Professor Joe McBride, who is still teaching.

·        A joint appointment with the Department of Earth Sciences was forged to bring the distinguished senior scientist Luna Leopold to UC Berkeley.

·        The field of environmental geology and hydrology was further augmented with the full appointment of Professor Matt Kondolf. 

In this way, LAEP has endeavored to provide a sound grounding in the natural sciences to augment more traditional design and planning instruction and research.

--prepared by Robert Twiss, Professor Emeritus of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning

Starting in 1968, faculty and student research assistants worked in support of planning for the Lake Tahoe Bain; leading to the first regional plan and ordinances for the just-created Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. 

Research Assistant James Pepper (1st row, left) is shown writing the script for a computer program to create a map of stream environment zones, part of the first digital mapping for the region.  Note: James Pepper received his MLA and MCP here and went on to a career as a Professor at UC Santa Cruz.

Coding was done by hand on a Mylar overlay as seen on the wall behind Mr. Pepper was well as close up (1st row, middle).  Codes were transferred to IMB punch cards, and taken to the University's one and only computer in the basement of Evans Hall for lengthy processing done over the weekend.  At that early date, there were no scanners, digitizing tables, or plotters.  GIS was not interactive, but done via programming for every task.

Tahoe's clear waters under stress from development (2nd row, middle)

The Tahoe watershed as seen from the south (2nd row, right)