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Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Labs and Software

This guide helps you get started learning about GIS and how to find geospatial data.

What GIS Software Is Available?

For access to GIS software, you have three options:

  1. Personal copies of ArcGIS are available through the Faculty of Forestry. See details below.
  2. Koerner Library also has two computer labs on level 2 (floor map) with GIS software installed: rooms 218A & 217. See room details below.
  3. Some open source alternative GIS tools are also listed below.

1. Obtaining ArcGIS Student Edition

Esri ArcGIS Student Edition software (1-year licence) is available to UBC students, faculty and staff through the Faculty of Forestry for $25. The software includes Spatial, Geostatistical, Network, and 3D Analyst extensions. A Registration Code can be purchased from the Faculty of Forestry receptionist in room 2045, Forest Sciences Centre with $25 and the presentation of your UBC card.

For a complete list of Esri software and licences available at UBC, please visit UBC's Geomatics website.

2a. Data/GIS Lab: Koerner 218A

Technology & Facilities

Hardware: There are 6 workstations with widescreen LCD monitors and a large-format scanner. For assistance, please ask at the Research Desk on level 2.

Software: GIS and statistical analysis software, including:

  • ArcGIS
  • FME Desktop
  • Google Earth Pro
  • R
  • SPSS
  • Stata
  • StatTransfer

Access Policies & Procedures

The lab is available Monday through Friday on a first-come first-serve basis for those needing access to GIS and statistical software. 

Please note that when you log out of the lab's computers, all files stored on the computer will be deleted. Please store all files on an external storage device.

2b. Main Computer Lab: Koerner 217

Technology & Facilities

Hardware: There are 32 workstations

Software: In addition to software provided on all library public machines, there is some GIS and statistical analysis software, including:

  • ArcGIS
  • Google Earth Pro
  • R
  • SPSS
  • FME Desktop

Access Policies & Procedures: 

The room is accessible on a first-come, first-serve basis any time that Koerner Library is open, and there isn't a class being held in the room. To check room availability, please check the calendar posted on the wall outside the room.

Please note that when you log out of the lab's computers, all files stored on the computer will be deleted. Please store all files on an external storage device.

3a. Open Source Alternatives

There are a variety of free, open source GIS software packages available. The most common of these is Quantum GIS (QGIS). A full list of open source GIS software and tools can be found at http://opensourcegis.org/

3b. Quantum GIS

The most common open source alternative to ArcGIS is Quantum GIS (QGIS). Check out the website to download the software and read the documentation: http://www.qgis.org/

Check out the Training Resources tab for links to online tutorials on QGIS and more.