Population and Environment

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 391–410 | Cite as

GIS without GPS: new opportunities in technology and survey research to link people and place



This paper presents innovative ways to relate survey data to GIS maps, thereby making the connection of people and place more accessible for the research community. Based on data from rural areas in the Brazilian Amazon, we describe a successful effort to sample households while linking farm-level data to property boundaries, these boundaries generated from subjects’ interpretations of satellite images on a computer screen. The sampling framework is based on legislation requiring farmers to report to a government agency in a four-week period, and the farmers’ input allows for a more efficient means of identifying property boundaries as compared to GPS. We show that the resulting sampling is statistically representative. We discuss the potential of this association of institutional design and low-cost methods of data collection to allow for more cost-effective generation of spatial data and of geospatial analysis.


GIS GPS Survey Probabilistic sampling Research design Satellite imagery Brazil Amazon 



The authors are thankful to Diana Weinhold, Daniel Caixeta, Henrique Neder, Andrei Cechin, Sandra Sequeira, Tony Hall, Ademar Romeiro, Ricardo Gomes, Zander Navarro, Alberto Lourenço, and Geraldo Martha for helpful comments and suggestions on research design. Leonardo Araújo and Derquiane Sabaini have provided great assistance in managing fieldwork. This research would not have been possible without the support of the State of Rondônia’s Livestock Sanitation Control Agency (IDARON) and Secretary of Environment (Sedam). Funding was provided by the CAPES Foundation (Brazilian Ministry of Education), the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


The data collection methods reported here were elaborated in accordance with the London School of Economic’s ethical guidelines. Subjects were provided a summary of the research’s aims and scope, and asked for consent for the interview and for the mapping of their plots. The procedures employed comply with the current Brazilian laws.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International DevelopmentLondon School of Economics (LSE), and Capes Foundation, Brazilian Ministry of EducationLondonUK
  2. 2.Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM)BrasíliaBrazil

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