Tsering Wangyal Shawa, a geographic information system (GIS) expert at the Princeton University, New Jersey, led a day-long training on understanding and creating maps to the researchers of the Tibet Policy Institute on May 21, 2015. Mr Wangyal gave presentations introducing the various features of GIS and provided hands-on demonstrations creating thematic maps based on empirical data. Towards the end of the intensive training, the researchers were equipped with the basic working knowledge of using specific software to create and work on thematic maps.
GIS is a computer system designed to capture, store, integrate, analyse, manage, and display all types of spatial or geographical data related to positions on Earth’s surface. Gaining rapid global recognition as an essential component of all types of academic, administrative, and economic research, GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map, enabling people to more easily see, analyse, and understand patterns and relationships.
Mr Wangyal is the GIS and Map Librarian at Princeton and has widespread experience in selecting, creating, and analysing geospatial data. He provides ongoing reference, research consultation, and instruction to users and library staff and also designs and delivers instructional short courses in GIS tools and data. Born in Tibet, Mr Wangyal holds degrees in the areas of library science, education, geography, and cartography. He has lived and taught geography and cartography to high school in India, Nepal, Kenya, and undergraduate students at the University of Juba, Sudan. He also teaches a GIS course titled “GIS for Public Policy” at Woodrow Wilson School.
Mr Wangyal is responsible for designing and editing one of the most comprehensive maps of Tibet, showing the location of township, county headquarters, county and provincial boundaries, major rivers, roads, and elevations. The map, titled, “Tibet – Township Map & Place Name Index” is based on the map and township index information as per the 2000 Chinese Census township level administrative units.
Written in three scripts – Tibetan, Chinese, and English – the map and its companion index captures as many Tibetan names of places as possible, building a comprehensive Tibetan place name database.