Professional Portfolio
By Kevin Dunlop

GIS Analysis and Modeling


GIS is more than making a pretty map. The true power in GIS lies behind the analysis of the data in order to turn data into information. Throughout my academic and professional career, I have used analysis to solve problems and save my clients money.

Risk-Based Fuels Management Decision Support System

As part of my final project entitled: Risk-Based Fuels Management Decision Support System for the NPS’s Southeast Region’s Fire Management Office, I developed a method for generating a single value for each hydrological catchment and compartment. This value represents the risk and impact of a forest fire based on several layers . In order to keep the process as simple as possible, I developed a model in ArcGIS Desktop's Modelbuilder to perform the analysis and calculations used to derive the overall risk value for each catchment and compartment. The model is shown below and can be viewed at full size by clicking on it.

Highway to Airfield Identification Project

Runways are permanent features that must be constructed following strict regulations. In very dense areas like South Korea, finding locations where runways can be placed without violating these regulations, such as airspace restriction, is difficult. This is especially true in war time and natural disaster situations, where temporary runways are needed. During these events, features such as expressways may be converted into temporary runways. While it is a myth that the US interstate system was designed to allow certain sections to serve as runways, South Korea has used expressways as runways in the past. Runways require long, straight, flat, and level surfaces in order for planes to land safely. In addition, the presence of tall buildings and trees next to expressways will limit the placement of runways. While in some instances, these airspace violations can be waivered, the ideal solution is to find areas without any violations.

My GIS 582 project focused on developing a methodology for finding suitable locations for temporary runways along an expressway/interstate system that have the fewest violations. The methodology I developed, described in detail in my project report, was as follows:

  1. Identify test sites
  2. Buffer centerline to represent pavement
  3. Calculate the slope for the DEM
  4. Generate statistic of slope
  5. Move buildings to test sites
  6. Determine max elevation for each site
  7. Draw polygons with z-values for airspace restrictions based on Army Class A runway
  8. Display DEM, test sites, buildings, and airspace restrictions in 3-D
  9. Identify buildings that intersect airspace restrictions

The image below shows the 3-D view of the airspace restriction results for test site 3 in my project. Any buildings, shown in blue, that intersect the airspace clearance zones, shown in yellow, orange, and red, are in violation. Similar images were developed for each test site and can be found in my report.

3D view of test site 3 violations

Figure 2: Test site 3 airspace violations shown in 3-D.

Using Landsat 8 Data to Identify Buildings with Poor Insulation

Remote sensing data can be used to solve many real world problems. For example, I used Landsat 8 data to identify buildings on the NCSU campus that radiate high amounts of heat during the winter, while also radiating high amounts of cooling during the summer. This identification indicates those buildings that may have poor insulation and thus are using more energy for their HVAC system. The presentation below is from my final project in GIS 512: Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing and describes both the analysis I used and my results.

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Video 1: Overview presentation of my GIS 512: Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing project. This presentation describes the analysis used and the results of using Landsat 8 to identify buildings with poor insulation.


While these examples are only some of the many different types of analysis I have performed during my GIS career, they illustrate that I am able to take data and turn it into meaningful information. The power of GIS is not simply to make a pretty picture but to develop a better understanding of our world and how the things in it interact. My ability to perform a wide range of analysis allows me to explain these interactions and the complex nature of our world in a way in which everyone can understand. For example, in the forest fire model above, I am able to show my client how the size of the hydrological unit impacts the results, or how changing a couple of inputs will yield different results. This information is valuable to him and to his customers in aiding them in making wiser decisions which will save them both money and time. This savings is their return of investment.