Monthly Archives: November 2009

Open Source GIS. A GRASS GIS Approach

Third Edition
Markus Neteler
FBK-irst & CEA, Trento, Italy
Helena Mitasova
North Carolina State University, USA

© 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


GRASS GIS software was developed in response to the need for improved analysis
of landscape “trade offs” in managing government lands and the emerging
potential of computer-based land analysis tools. During the last decades of the
20th century, government land managers in the U.S. (and across the world)
faced increasing requirements from legislation and stakeholder groups to examine
and evaluate alternative actions. To fulfill these new requirements, land
managers needed new tools.
During this same era, computational capabilities wondrously improved.
Tasks requiring days and months with paper and acetate overlays could be
accomplished with this newly emerging geographic information technology
within minutes. But even in the mid-1980s, GIS technology involved significant
capital investment. Managers wanted to see results before they spent their
limited funds on new technologies.
The U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) in
Champaign, Illinois has the mission of developing and infusing new technologies
for managing U.S. Department of Defense installations. These installations
include millions of acres of lands needed for military training and testing.
Other uses included wildlife management, hunting and fishing and forestry,
grazing and agricultural production. Other priorities were added through legislation
– such as protecting endangered species and habitats, protecting cultural
sites, and limiting the on and off-post impacts of noise, ordnance, contaminants
and sediments.
Military land managers were unable to cope with the challenge of examining
proposed new actions (such as new weapon firing ranges or new vehicle
training routes) without improved methods to gather, integrate and visualize
their data and to examine alternative courses of action. Acquiring emerging
proprietary technologies and digital data wasn’t even a consideration – the
cost was too high and the expertise required to learn, operate and manage
the technology was beyond their resources.
Given this need, a group of then young researchers at CERL elected to
develop their own set of initial landscape analysis tools. Initially, this in-house read more

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