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Ferriera, Joseph, Lorlene Hoyt, and Thomas Grayson, 11.208 Introduction to Computers in Public Management II, January IAP 2002. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 08 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Introduction to Computers in Public Management II

January (IAP) 2002

Introduction to computers in public management (11.208) logo.

Introduction to computers in public management (11.208) logo. (Logo courtesy of Urban Studies and Planning.)

Course Highlights

This course features a complete set of lecture and lab notes, which include a number of screenshots for sessions focused on teaching students how to use software. Sample homework assignments are also available. This course is offered during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), which is a special 4-week term at MIT that runs from the first week of January until the end of the month.

Course Description

Second of two modules facilitating a basic understanding of computing in planning and public management. Students develop problem-solving skills using computer-based tools for "what-if'' analyses. Emphasis on spatial analysis using geographic information systems and database query tools.


The second module of 11.207/11.208, Introduction to Computers in Public Management, will consist of four days of lectures and laboratory exercises. There will be a single homework assignment. This course will acquaint you with additional computer-based methods that are becoming widely used in the planning world. Specifically, you will learn how to build and use databases (data input and output, querying, and relational database design) and create clear, factual maps from demographic data. We will teach these by means of numerous examples and hands-on experience. Through class discussions and guest lectures, we will also engage your thinking on the issues and competence involved in analyzing large volumes of tabular and geographic data to address real world planning questions or issues. You should work individually on the exercises and turn in the maps and lab assignments to the lab monitors. If we are short machines and some of you have to work in pairs, be sure that each of you spends some time controlling the mouse/keyboard while the group does the exercise! For the homework set, small-group discussion of the concepts and general procedures needed for the homework questions is okay (and encouraged). But each individual must turn in their own individual homework set based on 'hands-on' work that they did personally. Timely completion of the problem set is required to avoid any reduction in the homework set grade.


Grades will be based on a combination of completed Lab Exercises and the final Problem Set. The Lab Exercises are designed as hands-on learning opportunities to be completed during the lab sessions. Each completed lab exercise counts toward the course grade. The Problem Set will be posted by Friday of the first week. Students will have approximately one week to submit answers. Problem Set grades are based on correct answers as well as presentation (i.e., map design).

Collaboration Policy

We will try to provide each student with an individual computer on which to work during the labs. In some cases, students may be required to double up on one computer. In these cases, we encourage sharing the effort as much as possible. Regardless, students are expected to submit their own individual lab assignments and final homework. However, during lab exercises we do encourage students to discuss the questions and collaborate on solving the problems. For the homework set, group discussion of the concepts and procedures needed for the homework questions is okay (and encouraged). You will also find that discussing homework problems with others is usually more useful than doing it all on your own. But you must turn in you own individual homework set based on 'hands-on' work that you did personally. If we find that your explanations are exactly like someone else's you will have to share the points on that problem!


Ses # Topics
Lecture 1

Introduction To 11.208 And Thematic Mapping

Producing and printing thematic maps

Lab A Building and printing a simple map from database tables and boundary files
Lecture 2

Crime Case Study and Elementary Database Management

Case study in analytic mapping

Getting data into a database (data import, entry)

Simple queries on a database (selecting fields and records, simple aggregation)

Getting data out of the database (data export)

Lab B Essential database operations: data input, simple queries, output.
Lecture 3

Making Sense Of The Census, Part I

The 1990 Census of Population and Housing

Tools to extract census data

Using census data: normalization, comparisons over time

Lecture 4

Introduction To Relational Databases, Part I

Introduction to the relational model

Intermediate queries: aggregation functions (grouping), multi-table queries

Lab C Build and run queries on survey data and urban management records
Lecture 5

Making Sense Of The Census, Part II

The 1990 Census of Population and Housing

Tools to extract census data

Using census data: normalization, comparisons over time

Lab D Extracting Census data from STF files
Lecture 6

Principles Of Relational Databases, Part II

Problem Set handed out prior day.

Elements of database design

The relational model of data including "One-to-many" relationships among data tables

Introduction to Structured Query Language (SQL)

Lecture 7

Database Management In Planning

An overview of planning uses of database management, both now and in the future.

Lab E Lab session emphasizing Census data and applying the relational model
Lecture 8

Preparing Effective Maps

Tips on preparing maps that communicate accurately, clearly, and persuasively

Lab F Enhancing the accuracy, clarity and persuasiveness of the map
Lecture 9

Spatial Analysis And Internet Overview

Introduction to Internet and GIS mapping resources

Web mapping resources

Lab G Integrating orthophotos with census data
Project Demo

Exhibition Of Planning Software And PSS Research

Demonstrations of software tools for mapping and spatial analysis

Lecture 10

Course Summary

Introduction to geographical information systems and course summary

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