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Understanding GIS Coordinate Systems


Approximately 17 minutes

Course Description:

The course "Understanding GIS Coordinate Systems" is designed to give you a basic understanding of how geographic information systems use coordinate systems to tie GIS data to particular locations on the earth, and of the coordinate systems commonly used in the United States. Course topics include geographic and plane coordinate systems, datums and ellipsoids, the UTM coordinate system, the US State Plane coordinate system, and coordinate system best practices for emergency management applications.

This course was created by Pacific EMPRINTS, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Anthropology. Creation of the course was funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Grant No. T01HP6427-0100.


The material covered in this course is related, in part, to the following capabilities from the Homeland Security Target Capabilities List:
  1. Common: Communications
  2. Common: Planning
  3. Prevent: Information Gathering and Recognition of Indicators & Warnings
  4. Prevent: Information Sharing and Dissemination
  5. Prevent: Intelligence Analysis and Production
  6. Protect: Epidemiologic Surveillance and Investigation
  7. Respond: Critical Resource Logistics & Distribution
  8. Respond: Emergency Operations Center Management
  9. Respond: Emergency Public Information and Warning
  10. Respond: Environmental Health
  11. Respond: Mass Care (Sheltering, Feeding, Related services)
  12. Respond: On-site Incident Management
  13. Respond: Responder Health and Safety
  14. Respond: Urban Search and Rescue
  15. Respond: WMD/Hazardous Materials Response and Decontamination

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this course, participants will be able to:
  1. List the common GIS coordinate systems used in the US
  2. Describe geographic and plane coordinate systems
  3. List the components of a fully specified coordinate system
  4. Understand how positions are referenced in the UTM and US State Plane coordinate systems

Target Audiences:

First Responders, Practicing Health Professionals, Administrators, Emergency/Disaster Planners, Emergency Medical Services personnel, Other Public Health personnel

Certificate of Completion:

A Certificate of Completion is available to be printed for this course upon completion of the post-test with a score of 80% or higher.

Cost: FREE*

*subject to change without notice.