Frequently asked questions
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) store, analyze, and visualize data for geographic positions on Earth’s surface.
GIS is a computer-based tool that examines spatial relationships, patterns, and trends.
By connecting geography with data, GIS better understands data using a geographic context
GIS mapping produces visualizations of geospatial information. The 4 main ideas of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are:
- Create geographic data.
- Manage it in a database.
- Analyze and find patterns.
- Visualize it on a map.
Because viewing and analyzing data on maps impacts our understanding of data, we can make better decisions using GIS. It helps us understand what is where. The analysis becomes simple. Answers become clear.
Every day, GIS powers millions of decisions around world. It makes a big impact in our life and you might not even realize. For example, we use GIS for:
- Pinpointing new store locations
- Reporting power outages
- Analyzing crime patterns
- Routing in car navigation
- Forecasting and predicting weather
In 1854, cholera hit the city of London, England. No one knew where the disease started. So, British physician John Snow started mapping the outbreak. It wasn’t just the disease. But he also mapped out roads, property boundaries, and water lines.
When he added these features to a map, something interesting happened. He noticed that cholera cases were only along one water line. This was a breakthrough that connected geography to public health safety. But it wasn’t only the beginning of spatial analysis. It also marked the start of epidemiology, the study of the spread of disease.
In 1968, a man by the name of Roger Tomlinson started piecing together modern computing with maps. In fact, he first coined the term “GIS” in his paper “A Geographic Information System for Regional Planning“. At this moment, GIS truly became a computer-based tool for storing map data. In 2014, Roger Tomlinson later passed away and will always be remembered as the “father of GIS”.
Geographic Information Systems is jam-packed with example use cases. Here are some examples below.
ENVIRONMENT: By far, the heaviest users are for the environment. For example, conservationists use GIS for climate change, groundwater studies, and impact assessments.
MILITARY AND DEFENSE: Military are heavy users for GIS. They use it for location intelligence, logistics management and spy satellites.
AGRICULTURE: Farmers use it for precision farming, soil mapping and crop productivity.
FORESTRY: Foresters manage timber, track deforestation and inventory forest stands with GIS.
BUSINESS: More on the business side of things, GIS is for site selection, consumer profiling and customer prospecting.
REAL ESTATE: Examples in real estate include market analysis, home valuations and zoning.
PUBLIC SAFETY: GIS shows the spread of disease, disaster response and public health.
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