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GIS Databases & Big Data GIST 7160

Geographic Information Systems Course

Course details

This course is an introduction to database systems, geodatabases and Big Data. Topics will include database, GIS, and cloud computing services terminology. Database systems will be compared, and ESRI’s enterprise geodatabase and ArcGIS Online cloud capabilities will be examined. Data modelling (conceptual, logical and physical models), advanced spatial data structures, spatial SQL and international metadata standards will be covered. Data discovery, Open Data (e.g., OpenStreetMap) and RESTful Big GeoData services will be discussed. The use of Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) tools such as Safe Software’s Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) will also be demonstrated. The students will each develop their own geodatabase for one of five application areas: regional transit and commuting; regional weather and natural hazard emergency management; municipal infrastructure management; retail, logistics and eCommerce; or public health. Finally, this course provides a basic introduction to what Big Data is, how these datasets can be imported into a geodatabase, and how they can be visualized using ArcGIS Pro (desktop) and ArcGIS Online (cloud). This is a rapidly-changing field with high levels of innovation.






Course offerings

Fall 2023

Below is one offering of GIST 7160 for the Fall 2023 term.

CRN 44205


Thu Sep 14 - Wed Dec 06 (12 weeks)

  • 12 weeks
  • CRN 44205
  • $817.82
Class meeting times
Dates Days Times Locations
Sep 14 - Dec 06 N/A N/A Online

William Johnstone

Course outline

Course outline TBD — see Learning Outcomes in the interim.



Important information
  1. Internet delivery format.
  2. Departmental approval needed
  3. Important course information will be sent to you prior to your course start date. Check your myBCIT email account to access this information.
  4. Students should be accepted into the GIS program and completed the prerequisites prior to registration of this course. To receive approval, please email your BCIT Student ID to For more information about online courses at BCIT, please visit: Students must check your e-mail account for start-up instructions sent upon registration of this course. To be successful in our online courses, plan to spend 4-6 hours per course each week on your studies, starting Week 1. Our courses are highly interactive with participation requirements weekly. Most of our online learning courses require a textbook. You can search for your course textbook at : If no textbook is listed, course material will be provided via e-mail.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Distinguish between and give examples of data concepts such as: spatial vs attribute data, structured vs semi-structured vs unstructured data, and regular data vs metadata.
  • Distinguish between and give examples of DBMS models: RDBMS, OODBMS, ORDBMS, GIS, and Spatial DBMS.
  • Distinguish between and give examples of basic and advanced spatial data structures.
  • Describe the architecture of a modern enterprise spatial DBMS.
  • Describe the essential characteristics of Big Data and web (cloud) services
  • Describe how to scope and design a Big Data geodatabase for an application area.
  • Download and import cloud-based Open Data and Big GeoData into your own geodatabase.
  • Implement spatial databases using GIS desktop tools including ArcGIS Pro, and cloud data tools such as ArcGIS Online.
  • Develop visualizations of Big GeoData datasets using ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Insights.

Effective as of Fall 2020

Related Programs

GIS Databases & Big Data (GIST 7160) is offered as a part of the following programs:

School of Construction and the Environment

  1. Geographic Information Systems
    Advanced Certificate Part-time


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