Van Niel, Kimberly

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Van Niel, Kimberly




Office—School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, M004, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Hwy., Crawley, WA 6009, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]


Geographer, educator, and writer. The University of Western Australia, School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia, senior lecturer.


CRC (Cooperative Research Center) Chairman's Award, 2004, for the Coastal CRC subproject, benthic biology and habitat classification; Victoria Coastal Award for Excellence, 2006, for the Parks Victoria-Coastal CRC Partnership "Mapping the Deep"; recipient of numerous research grants.


(With Julie Delaney) Geographical Information Systems: An Introduction, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including GeoJournal, Preventive Medicine, Ecological Applications, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, Journal of Hydrology, Journal of Vegetation Science, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, and Forest Ecology and Management.


Kimberly Van Niel is a faculty member of the University of Australia and the author with Julie Delaney of the second edition of Geographical Information Systems: An Introduction. Designed for beginning users of geographical information systems (GIS), the book introduces readers to GIS concepts, principles, vocabulary, and procedures. These systems enable scientists to view, interpret, and visualize data that reveals relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps and globes, as well as reports and charts.

The book begins with a general introduction to GIS. "GIS constitutes an integrated toolbox for spatial data input, storage, management, retrieval, manipulation, analysis, modelling, output, and display," the authors note. The authors also write: "Most definitions in the literature emphasize that GIS is only a tool. One of the common mistakes made in regard to GIS is to expect that GIS will solve spatial problems in isolation. Indeed, this misconception led to a great deal of disillusionment in the 1980s. Stressing that GIS will only aid in decision making and problem solving is, therefore, an important concept in defining GIS. Successful application of GIS depends heavily on the user making critical and informed decisions."

Throughout chapter one, the book explores the various uses for GIS. In chapters two through seven, the focus is on various aspects of managing data, including identifying, capturing, and entering data into the system. "As GIS databases become larger, the need to employ good data management techniques becomes increasingly obvious," write the authors. Among the topics discussed in these chapters are the various types of data and data structures relevant to GIS, data-entry processes, how to edit or remove data, data output methods and issues, organization and management techniques, and map projections with GIS.

Chapter eight focuses on the elementary tools needed for GIS operation, such as elementary querying and display tools. Chapter nine discusses vector geoprocessing tools. Next the authors address proximity analysis and network analysis tools, followed by a discussion of how to initiate landscape GIS type studies, including a look at three-dimensional models. Chapter thirteen focuses on various aspects of GIS modeling, including explicative, predictive, statistical, and cartographic modeling. Each chapter in the book also includes exercises, numerous examples, "comments from the workplace," and illustrations. The authors end their book with a section titled "Where to from Here?" They discuss the future directions of GIS and GIS in the workplace, and they provide comments from GIS users. The book's second edition includes two appendixes: the answers to exercises and stories of Australian GIS users. Also included are an index, a glossary, and a references and further reading section.



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, September 1, 2001, E.J. Delaney, review of Geographical Information Systems: An Introduction, p. 150; October, 2007, E.J. Delaney, review of Geographical Information Systems, p. 311.

SciTech Book News, June, 2007, review of Geographical Information Systems.


FNAS School of Earth & Geographical Sciences, University of Western Australia Web site, (August 20, 2008), faculty profile of author.

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Van Niel, Kimberly

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