Environmental Monitoring

Our daily life is based on the functioning of environmental systems: The air we breathe, the food we eat or the materials we use. Hence, we must know the state and trend of our environmental systems. Environmental monitoring exactly provides this fundamental data and information and covers a wide range of fields and applications. You, as a GIS expert, can be critical to a successful design, implementation and maintenance of environmental monitoring systems since spatial data and information are at the heart of many applications.
The aim of this module is to introduce you to the key concepts and methodologies of environmental monitoring, so that you can effectively join an environmental monitoring team. The module covers critical steps of designing and implementing an environmental monitoring system with a special focus on GIS systems and spatial analytics.
Methodologically, the module builds on a basic knowledge of geodata handling and GIS analyses using QGIS. And it specifically extends on the use of requirements engineering methods for system design and the R statistical programming language for spatial analyses and visualizations. R is a powerful open source statistical software and programming language with a large statistical and environmental user community. Real-world examples and best practices will complement the conceptual blocks.

16 March 2020
20 July 2020
16 November 2020

Environmental Monitoring – Registration

November 16 - February 8, 2021

3 months



The module is free of charge for UNIGIS students working to meet their elective subject requirements. Included are:

  • all related study materials
  • supervision and assessment
  • module accreditation according to the curriculum

ClubUNIGIS members can register at a price of € 300,-. Included are:

  • all related study materials
  • supervision and assessment
  • course certificate upon completion of the module

The overall objective is to introduce you to the key concepts and methodologies of environmental monitoring, so that you can effectively join an environmental monitoring team as GIS and spatial analytics specialist:

  • You know the objectives and content of environmental monitoring including its capabilities and limits.
  • You can formally describe an environment to be monitored, its key components and properties by means of requirements engineering.
  • You can outline an environmental monitoring system based on an existing environment definition and identify critical stages of the process. In doing so, you provide the basic information for an actual design or maintenance of an environmental monitoring system, which involves specialists from various fields and disciplines.
  • You can interpret and evaluate existing results from an environmental monitoring system.
  • You create your own conclusions from an existing environmental monitoring system through statistics and visualizations.

Core UNIGIS modules 1-3 or equivalent understanding of GIS, data modeling, data structures and data acquisition. It would be good to have worked with QGIS and/or the statistical software and programming environment R. If you are not sure whether you qualify, please contact martin.loidl@sbg.ac.at (UNIGIS DE) or anna.karnassioti@sbg.ac.at (UNIGIS INT).

The minimum required hardware to complete the module are:

  • 4 GB hard disk space at least 2048 MB Ram on operating system (more is recommended)
  • operating system Windows 7 and later, 64-BIT
  • CPU: x86, x86_64 Processor (Intel Pentium, Core …, AMD Athlon/Phenom)

This is an exclusively english language module. Hence, any kind of communication with the module lecturer is in English.

A discussion forum is maintained in Moodle in order to support efficient module interaction. You are requested to submit all your questions related to this module to this forum only. And you are also invited to actively share your ideas, results and difficulties on the forum as well. Let’s learn from each other as well!
The lecturer will check all incoming comments on a regular basis. He will answer your questions where applicable or provide you with pointers for solving your problems.

The module is delivered in the form of an instructed self-study that is based on an explorative learning process. Theoretical concepts are complemented with practice oriented examples and demonstrated with the help of multimedia elements. Upon completion of the module, students are requested to evaluate the module, which is a part of our quality assurance policy and practice.

  • QGIS (www.qgis.org): A Free and Open Source Geographic Information System GIS.
  • R (www.r-project.org): A Free Software Environment for Statistical Computing and Graphics.
  • R Studio (www.rstudio.com): An integrated development environment (IDE) for R including a console, syntax-highlighting editor that supports direct code execution, as well as tools for plotting, history, debugging and workspace management.

The assessment is based on your completed assignments. They must be submitted in written format (.PDF/.DOC) to the Dropbox within the required time period. If assignments are submitted late, the lecturer is not obligated to grade them. It will be listed as such on your transcript.

The module Environmental Monitoring is organized in 5 chapters along the main steps of environmental monitoring, each with 3 lessons.

  • Monitoring (Theory Monitoring): Lessons 1-3
  • Environment (Theory Environment and Requirements Engineering): Lessons 4-6
  • Planning (Theory Planning and R Introduction): Lessons 7-9
  • Implementation (Theory Statistics and R Application): Lessons 10-12
  • Assessment and Reporting (Theory Communication and R Visualizations): Lessons 13-15