The Center for Spatial Analysis and Research (CSAR) in the Geography Department at Portland State University serves researchers and organizations in the greater Portland area for projects involving four broad areas of expertise:
Cartography has as its primary focus the design and production of maps, but is more broadly concerned with the effective communication of qualitative and quantitative data. Thus, the analysis and presentation of data in the form of tables, graphs, and charts is traditionally a key part of cartography. Issues of scientific visualization in a variety of formats - books, journals, large-format posters, web pages, and PowerPoint presentations - are all of concern in cartography.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology provides a unified approach to collecting, organizing, analyzing, and managing a wide variety of spatial data. As the spatial approach that is the foundation of geographical thinking has been discovered by other disciplines, there has been an explosion in the variety and volume of available spatial data. The faculty and staff at CSAR have wide-ranging backgrounds of experience. As a result, CSAR is uniquely qualified to assist in applying GIS technology to data compilation, modeling, and analysis across a broad spectrum of interests, from natural science, to social science, to planning, to engineering, to community organization.
Remote Sensing runs the gamut of sensors from traditional film-based aerial photography, to digital aerial photos, to satellite multi-spectral scanners and radar, to emerging technologies such as hyperspectral scanners and LIDAR. The large-area overview and temporal monitoring capabilities of remote sensing make it an invaluable spatial inventory tool. Increasingly, remotely-sensed data is used not just for stand-alone graphics, but as a key component in both GIS analysis and the cartographic design process.
Education is a critical component of CSAR's work. Project work provides practical experience for students by allowing them to work on real-world technical and analytical problems under the supervision of CSAR staff and affiliated faculty. In addition, CSAR-affiliated faculty are actively engaged in delivering education in CSAR-related technologies through the undergraduate and master's curriculum of the Geography Department, the GIS Graduate Certificate Program, and specialized short courses. CSAR is thus an important extension of the academic and community service missions of the University.