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Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research / AISSR

The GIS Lab is a centre of GIS expertise and resources at the University of Amsterdam, housed within the Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development.

With the growing popularity of digital maps and geographic information technology there has been a ‘spatial turn’ in the social sciences. To address the spatial dimension of social science research questions, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) support scientists exploring and making sense of social reality.

The GIS Lab provides researchers and students with GIS advice and support at the University of Amsterdam. Its team is involved in the GIS education programme, providing undergraduate and graduate GIS courses from introductory to advanced levels. The researchers in the team are involved in cutting-edge GIS research within the social sciences domain. The research mission is to apply a spatial angle and incorporate spatial analysis tools to fundamental questions of human geography, planning and international development, as well themes across the social sciences more broadly. The GIS Lab members are further involved in research proposals and carrying out acquired research grants.

The support staff of the GIS Lab provides advice and support to other researchers across the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR). For both research staff and students, the GIS Lab team supports requests regarding various GIS-related inquiries and access to software and hardware resources.

  • GIS Lab Services

    The GIS Lab provides key services for GIS research and education. Some key services are listed below. If you would like to inquire about these, please get in touch with the GIS Lab’s contact-person, Marcel Heemskerk.

    GIS research and technical advice

    The GIS Lab provides research and technical advice for researchers across the AISSR using, or interested in using, GIS methods. Staff working with GIS can contact us for GIS advice. We are happy to meet and discuss opportunities for integrating GIS into your research, albeit our potential engagement is, of course, dependent on time availability.

    GIS computer lab

    The GIS Lab provides a computer lab for GIS analysis which is accessible to all researchers and students using GIS. It is located in the L building of the Roeterseiland campus and is equipped with essential infrastructure for GIS analysis, including 12 high-performing double-screen computers. Computers are equipped with all the common GIS software: including ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Pro, MapInfo, QuantumGIS, Google Earth. The GIS computer lab is also equipped for staff with a ‘Smartboard’ for interactive map presentation and collaboration.

    Supported GIS computer lab hours

    Two days a week, Marcel Heemskerk is available for GIS support for users of the GIS computer lab. Dependant on time constraints, he is available for offering general advice on different GIS approaches and help with troubleshooting. His availability is listed below (under Contact & Office Hours). Where these hours differ or his availability is limited, times will be posted on his office door: Room L.207A located adjacent to the GIS Lab. 

    GIS software and licencing

    The GIS Lab provides access to the ESRI ArcGIS suite of spatial analysis software for AISSR researchers as well as students within the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies.


    The GIS Lab provides plotting services for colour printing up to A0 poster size. For printing with the A0 plotter, please contact Marcel Heemskerk. You should email your file for printing a week in advance to ensure it can be processed in time and taking into account Marcel Heemskerk’s working days.

    Other hardware

    The GIS Lab also has several other hardware available for researchers and students, such as GPS Locators for data collection and a scanner for digitization of paper material.


    The GIS Lab is able to host ESRI ‘StoryMaps’ which are an online multimedia website that includes interactive GIS mapping. These are a nice way to showcase and share spatial research output in an approachable and engaging way. They are currently also being used for student projects in GIS courses.

    GIS online data & self-study Resources (in progress)

    The GIS Lab is assembling a list of valuable online spatial data resources relevant to the social sciences. Additionally, we are compiling self-study manuals for common GIS analysis methods. Both are currently under development and will be shared online with researchers and students when available.

    GIS teaching & training

    The GIS Lab supports the GIS teaching programme within the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies with courses within the Bachelors and Masters level. The GIS Lab intermittently organizes short training sessions for staff, dependent on demand and time availability. These are held in the GIS computer room. Our resources for self-study also present a useful place to start.

  • Contact & Office Hours

    For standard inquiries please get in touch with Marcel Heemskerk, the GIS Lab contact-person and technical officer. Marcel Heemskerk works at the GIS Lab two days a week on Thursdays and Fridays. The rest of GIS Lab team is listed under the People page.

    M.J. (Marcel) Heemskerk

    GIS Lab contact-person and technical coordinator. Point of contact for all technical and practical matters concerning GIS software and GIS Lab facilities. Marcel Heemskerk’s working days for the GIS Lab are Thursdays and Fridays.

    In-person drop-in hours:

    Besides inquiries via email, Marcel Heemskerk maintains the following office hours during his work days when he is usually available for drop-in inquiries. His office is located next to the GIS computer room in the L building (L2.07).

    • Mondays: 9:00 – 17:00
    • Tuesdays: 9:00 – 17:00