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.
Top Five Benefits of GIS
GIS benefits organizations of all sizes and in almost every industry. There is a growing awareness of the economic and strategic value of GIS. The benefits of GIS generally fall into five basic categories:
- Cost Savings and Increased Efficiency
- Better Decision Making
- Improved Communication
- Better Recordkeeping
- Managing Geographically
What Can You Do with GIS?
GIS gives us a new way to look at the world around us. With GIS you can:
- Map Where Things Are
- Map Quantities
- Map Densities
- Find What’s Inside
- Find What’s Nearby
- Map Change
The Geographic Approach
Geography is the science of our world. Coupled with GIS, geography is helping us to better understand the earth and apply geographic knowledge to a host of human activities. The outcome is the emergence of The Geographic Approach—a new way of thinking and problem solving that integrates geographic information into how we understand and manage our planet. This approach allows us to create geographic knowledge by measuring the earth, organizing this data, and analyzing and modeling various processes and their relationships. The Geographic Approach also allows us to apply this knowledge to the way we design, plan, and change our world.
- Step 1: Ask
- Step 2: Acquire
- Step 3: Examine
- Step 4: Analyze
- Step 5: Act
There are many online glossaries of GIS terms and acronyms. We recommend you compare the definitions from three sources to get a comprehensive idea of what the term means.
- GIS Wiki: wiki.gis.com
- Dictionary of Abbreviations and Acronyms in GIS, Cartography, and Remote Sensing—University of California at Berkeley
- Esri Online GIS Dictionary
- FGDC Glossary — most terms are from the Spatial Data Transfer Standard (FIPS 173)
- Geographer’s Craft Glossary—University of Colorado at Boulder
- GIS Data Depot Helpdesk Glossary
- Glossaire SIG -French-language glossary from ESRI-France
- Glossary of Cartographic Terms—Perry-Castañeda Library, University of Texas at Austin
- ArcNews-A magazine featuring GIS success stories.
- ArcUser-A magazine for ESRI software users.
- ArcWatch-E-magazine for GIS news, views, and insights.
- A Very Spatial Podcast
- Directions Magazine
- Geo: International Magazine
- Geospatial Today
- GIS Development