Matthew is a student studying for an MSc in Anthropology at a University in London. His dissertation project will explore the relationship between betting shops and their impact on the surrounding local neighbourhood.
Since the information is geographical, and he is interested in understanding the spatial patterns, he wants to organise, analyse and visualise the data that he will collect during site visits in a map form. The information will include the locations of different types of shops in combination with the qualitative perceptions gathered from interviewing local residents and the researcher’s personal observations.
He is not confident with new computer systems and has no background knowledge of geography or mapping systems but has heard from his supervisor that a GIS could be very useful.
His university uses ArcGIS as its desktop mapping system but he does not know how to begin using it, what sorts of data formats are required or even how to open different datasets within the system. He discovers it is very difficult to teach yourself how to create a map – even though he uses Google maps to find the location of various social events. He has tried reading the help file but it is not so useful to a novice, as there is a lot of unfamiliar terminology. He feels overwhelmed as it is so complicated and confusing to use. He is not really sure where to start.