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GIS - Geographic Information Systems: About GIS

Version 1. Version 2, 2012. Version3, 2013

GIS Dictionary

This dictionary includes terms from GIS operations such as analysis, data management, and geocomputation; from rapidly evolving uses of GIS for modeling, GIScience, and Web-based GIS; and from the GIS foundation fields of cartography, spatial statistics, computer science, surveying, geodesy, and remote sensing. This online GIS Dictionary also includes ESRI software-specific terminology.

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Additional Knowledge

Did you know that GIS has been invented by the Canadian Dr. Roger Tomlinson?

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GIS Cafe

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About GIS

What is GIS?

A geographic information system (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.

GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts.

A GIS helps you answer questions and solve problems by looking at your data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared.

GIS technology can be integrated into any enterprise information system framework.


Why Use GIS?

Your organization has new and legacy data stored in a variety of formats in many locations. You need a way to integrate your data so that you can analyze it as a whole and leverage it to make critical business and planning decisions.

GIS can integrate and relate any data with a spatial component, regardless of the source of the data. For example, you can combine the location of mobile workers, located in real-time by GPS devices, in relation to customers' homes, located by address and derived from your customer database. GIS maps this data, giving dispatchers a visual tool to plan the best routes for mobile staff or send the closest worker to a customer. This saves tremendous time and money.



What can you do with GIS?

  • Map where things are:
    Mapping where things are lets you find places that have the features you're looking for, and to see where to take action.
  • Map Qantities:
    People map quantities, like where the most and least are, to find places that meet their criteria and take action, or to see the relationships between places. This gives an additional level of information beyond simply mapping the locations of features.
  • Map Densities:
    While you can see concentrations by simply mapping the locations of features, in areas with many features it may be difficult to see which areas have a higher concentration than others. A density map lets you measure the number of features using a uniform areal unit, such as acres or square miles, so you can clearly see the distribution.
  • Find what's inside:
    Use GIS to monitor what's happening and to take specific action by mapping what's inside a specific area. For example, a district attorney would monitor drug-related arrests to find out if an arrest is within 1,000 feet of a school--if so, stiffer penalties apply.
  • Find what's nearby:
    Find out what's occurring within a set distance of a feature by mapping what's nearby.
  • Map Change:
    Map the change in an area to anticipate future conditions, decide on a course of action, or to evaluate the results of an action or policy.



 Demo: What is GIS?

    Spatial and Numeric Data Services

    Who are we and what do we do?

    Spatial and Numeric Data Services can help you find, organize and process your statistical and geospatial data:

    Contact Marilyn Andrews, Data Services Librarian
    Phone: (306) 585-5113
    Office Hours: Monday to Friday - appointments recommended
    LY 107.23, Dr. John Archer Library

    Visit our website