M@IN - Accessing Spatial Data Tutorial


Geographic Information and GIS

What is a GIS?

A computer system for capturing, managing, integrating, manipulating, analyzing, and displaying data which is spatially referenced to the Earth -- International GIS Dictionary

An information technology which stores, analyzes, and displays both spatial and non-spatial data -- H. Dennison Parker, formerly Publisher, GIS World

Automated tools for the efficient storage, analysis, and presentation of geographic data -- Jack Dangermond, President, Environmental Systems Research Institute

A decision support system involving the integration of spatially referenced data in a problem solving environment -- Dr. David Cowen, University of South Carolina

Several common themes are inherent to each of these definitions.

GIS can also be thought of as a distinct technology made up of the following components: computer hardware; GIS software; users and systems personnel; procedures, standards, and policies; and data.

What Are GIS Applications?

GIS technology supports the use of geographic data in a variety of ways, often called applications.

As noted earlier, GIS technology emphasizes analysis rather than map making. Analytical applications in GIS cover a broad range of topics but typically involve the integration of different data layers to solve a problem or answer a question.

How Can I Use GIS?

The applications described above represent only a few of the almost unlimited number of applications that GIS technology can support. GIS can also be used to display and analyze existing statistical data. How can you use this powerful tool to:

The two indispensable requirements are:

Software and Data

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