Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
This semester long subject (11.521) is divided into two halves. The first half focuses on learning spatial database management techniques and methods and the second half focuses on using these skills to address a 'real world,' client-oriented planning problem. The first half of the semester may be taken separately using the class number 11.523 and the second half may be taken separately as 11.524.
In order to help shape and utilize the information infrastructure that will support the management and development of our metropolitan areas, planners need a basic understanding of the tools and technology for querying, analyzing, and sharing complex databases and maps. Managing online access to large and constantly-changing spatial datasets can be a powerful aid to planning and can facilitate inter-agency cooperation and collaboration in an increasingly decentralized world. But it requires the use of knowledge representation methods, client-server technologies and access control issues that are quite different from what are needed to model and visualize standalone datasets on a personal computer. Hence, planners should acquire basic skills in database management, digital spatial data analysis, and networking.
The 11.523 portion of the semester addresses these issues while retaining a focus on planning (rather than on computer science). This is an intensive, hands-on class that stresses learning by doing. Exercises and examples involving real-world data, maps, and images are used to develop skills with database query languages and the design development and use of structured databases. Class work utilizes web tools, GIS, and database software with lab exercises. Specifically, we will access an Oracle 8i database using SQL (structured query language) and use ArcView for GIS. Each week there are two sixty to ninety-minute classes plus another 90+ minute hands-on lab in an electronic classroom. Class lectures will focus on concepts and case discussion, the scheduled lab time focuses on computer mechanics and skill building. Specific topics during 11.523 include:
The 11.524 portion of the semester will treat the classroom like a professional planning office, working as a team to produce a two deliverables for their client, Lawrence Community Works, Inc. (LCW), a community development corporation located in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts. LCW and DUSP recently agreed to work together for the next five years to design and implement a multi-tier web-based planning system that promotes democratic involvement and informs community development projects. Your involvement this semester is critical, because the implementation plan that you craft this semester will serve as the road map for both organizations for years to come and the simple web-based planning tool that you design will engage stakeholders by giving them a better sense of how technologies can aid decision-making processes. Through their project work, students will enhance important professional skills by:
The prerequisite for this class is
(b) an understanding of analytic methods that most undergraduates acquire via general Institute requirements and MCP students obtain from course from
Exercises, class discussions, and projects use real databases and problems taken from current Planning Support Systems (PSS), involving local and regional planning agencies. These data include parcel-level maps, tabular data, and digital orthophotos for all of Boston; land use, wetland, and other environmental planning datasets for the state; and detailed information about the neighborhoods being studied for the project.
The full course includes nine lab exercises; 11.523 students complete the first six labs, and 11.524 students do the last three. Each lab includes an assignment to be turned in. To facilitate a quick turnaround on grading, these assignments will be evaluated on a three-point scale: check-minus, check, check-plus. Students in 11.521 and 11.523 will complete three homework sets and have an examination before Spring Break. Students in 11.521 and 11.524 will complete a half-semester group project during the second half of the term that provides an opportunity to apply GIS and database concepts in a more realistic context. The project concludes with an oral presentation to the client and a written report. In addition to preparing paper maps of various sizes, each team will build a web site to showcase its work.
Grade is average of 11.523 and 11.524 grades
Turning in assignments promptly is important both for keeping current with the subject matter, which is cumulative, and to keep all students on a level playing field. Hence, we have adopted a strict policy towards credit for assignment that is turned in late.
Lab exercises are typically due one week after the lab is run. A late lab exercise will be accepted up until one week after the original due date for a loss of one grade (e.g., a "check" becomes a "check-minus"). After that, late assignments will receive no credit and will not be accepted.
Late problem sets will have two points deducted for each day (including weekends and holidays) after the due date. Hence, a problem set turned in three days late would lose 6 points. If it would have earned 90 points if turned in on time, it would receive only 84 points under these conditions. Regardless, no problem sets will be accepted after the answers have been posted, typically two weeks after the initial due date.