An Introduction to GISCenturyTree
A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map, such as streets, buildings, and vegetation. This enables people to more easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships.
– National Geographic
What is GIS?
GIS stands for Geographic Information System. It’s something you use every day without even realizing it. It’s a mapping technology that helps us make sense of the world around us. Since the dawn of civilization, maps have been used to help humans navigate their domain. Today’s exploration of the physical world happens less on the physical map and more through the virtual realm. This is where GIS comes in.
GIS stands for Geographic Information System. It is one of the major components of geographic information technologies besides Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and Remote Sensing (RS). In simple words, GIS is a business information management system that helps us capture, analyze and present special geographic information on a map. It is basically location-based information. The data is related to position points on Earth’s surface.
GIS helps you to visualize your data as a map and allows you to utilize geography when making decisions. By this system, many kinds of data can be shown together: roadways, buildings, vegetation, population density, contour lines, flood zones, school district boundaries, city and county boundaries, etc… This helps us to easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships.
The techy version describes it as “a business information management system that helps capture, analyze, and interpret data in visual ways to reveal relationships and patterns which help us make better decisions.” Phew.
Now that we got that out of the way, on to the short version: GIS looks at the patterns of a geographic space and places the data in an easy to use map.
What can GIS do for you?
Everyday billions of decisions are taken by the help of GIS. When was the last time you confirmed directions using Google Maps or some similar app? That’s GIS.
Now that you know what it is, let’s find out how it impacts your daily life. Ever use Waze or Google Maps to navigate out of a traffic jam? Yep, you can thank it for that. Check out these other ways GIS helps:
Retailers – GIS helps pinpoint the best location for a new store based on data gathered in that specific geographic area. Top brands use GIS to decide the next best location for their new store. The better the location, the higher the profit that can be earned from that vicinity. Think Walmart, Target, your local hospital will study their patient population or your local grocer looking to build their business in the community.
Utilities – GIS helps determine where power outages occur, helping them respond more efficiently.
Police Departments – GIS helps discover patterns of criminal activity, thus helping police create strategic plans to keep areas safe. Intelligence agencies use GIS to discover patterns of criminal activity and plan operations much more strategically. Resulting patterns and trends can then be seen on a digital map, much easier than viewing a data on a spread sheet.
City Planners – GIS helps City Planners determine the best location for a new park, school, or hospital based on data gathered, ensuring they’re built in the area with the most need.
Meteorologists – GIS assists scientists in studying the path of hurricanes to predict where they will occur in the future.
How Does GIS Work?
GIS software runs on computers, ranging from the most powerful server to a basic smart phone. Information about the real world is stored in a collection of layers linked by geography. Each layer contains similar features such as streets, rivers or landmarks. People then analyze graphic data using these tools and then visualize geographic data as maps, graphs or charts. Patterns and trends are easily identified, making information that was once buried in a spreadsheet come to life.
From alternate traffic routes to saving lives, millions of decisions are powered by GIS. If you’re looking for the perfect piece of property to finally open that business or build that housing development in an area of suspected growth, then GIS can help.
Five Key Components of GIS.
GIS integrates five key components that together enable you to leverage the geographic information is your decision making.
Hardware is basically the computer on which a GIS operates. Nowadays there is a wide variety hardware types available, from centralized computer servers to desktop computers to cell phones.
GIS software is the computer program, functions and tools required to store, analyze, and display geographic information.
GIS technology is nothing without skilled people who manage the system and to develop plans for applying it. Special technical specialists are there who design and maintain the system.
Next most important component of GIS is data. Geographic data can be collected by ourselves or bought from a commercial data provider. Methods to run GIS is always important. To successfully run a GIS there should be well-designed plan and business rules, which are the models and operating practices unique to each organization.