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    Geographic information system

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    GIS redirects here. For other meanings, see GIS (disambiguation).

    A geographic information or geographical information system (GIS) is a system for creating, storing, analyzing and managing spatial data and associated attributes. In the strictest sense, it is a computer system capable of integrating, storing, editing, analyzing, sharing, and displaying geographically-referenced information. In a more generic sense, GIS is a tool that allows users to create interactive queries (user created searches), analyze the spatial information, and edit data. Geographical Information Science is the science underlying the applications and systems, taught as a degree programme by several universities.

    A GIS with two different layers visible, showing two different variables.Geographic information systems technology can be used for scientific investigations, resource management, asset management, Environmental Impact Assessment development planning, cartography, and route planning. For example, a GIS might allow emergency planners to easily calculate emergency response times in the event of a natural disaster, or a GIS might be used to find wetlands that need protection from pollution.

    Contents [hide]

    1 History of development

    2 Techniques used in GIS

    2.1 Data Creation

    2.2 Relating information from different sources

    2.3 Data representation

    2.4 Data capture

    2.5 Data manipulation

    2.6 Projections, coordinate systems and registration

    2.7 Spatial analysis with GIS

    2.7.1 Data modeling

    2.7.2 Topological modeling

    2.7.3 Networks

    2.7.4 Cartographic modeling

    2.7.5 Map overlay

    2.7.6 Automated Cartography

    2.7.7 Spatial Statistics (Geostatistics)

    2.7.8 Geocoding

    2.7.9 Reverse geocoding

    2.8 Data output and cartography

    2.9 Graphic display techniques

    3 GIS software

    3.1 Open Source GIS Software

    4 The future of GIS

    4.1 OGC standards

    4.2 Web mapping

    4.3 Global change and climate history program

    4.4 Adding the dimension of time

    5 See also

    6 Textbooks

    7 University Degree Programmes

    8 External links


    History of development

    35,000 years ago, on the walls of caves near Lascaux, France, Cro-Magnon hunters drew pictures of the animals they hunted. Associated with the animal drawings are track lines and tallies thought to depict migration routes. While simplistic in comparison to modern technologies, these early records mimic the two-element structure of modern geographic information systems, an image associated with attribute information.

    Possibly the earliest use of the geographic method, in 1854 John Snow depicted a cholera outbreak in London using points to represent the locations of individual cases. His study of the distribution of cholera led to the source of the disease, a contaminated water pump within the heart of the outbreak.

    Original map by Dr. John Snow showing the clusters of cholera cases in the London epidemic of 1854While the basic elements of topology and theme existed previously in cartography, the John Snow map was unique, using cartographic methods to depict clusters of a geographically dependant phenomena for the first time.

    The early 20th century saw the development of "photo lithography" where maps were separated into layers. Computer hardware development spurred by nuclear weapon research would lead to general purpose computer "mapping" applications by the early 1960s. The year 1967 saw the development of the world's first true operational GIS in Ottawa, Ontario by the federal Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources. Developed by Roger Tomlinson, it was called "Canadian GIS" (CGIS) and was used to store, analyse, and manipulate data collected for the Canada Land Inventory (CLI)—an initiative to determine the land capability for rural Canada by mapping information about soils, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, waterfowl, forestry, and land use at a scale of 1:250,000. A rating classification factor was also added to permit analysis.

    CGIS was the world's first "system" and was an improvement over "mapping" applications as it provided capabilities for overlay, measurement, and digitizing/scanning. It supported a national coordinate system that spanned the continent, coded lines as "arcs" having a true embedded topology, and it stored the attribute and locational information in separate files. As a result of this, Tomlinson has become known as the "father of GIS."

    CGIS lasted into the 1990s and built the largest digital land resource database in Canada. It was developed as a mainframe based system in support of federal and provincial resource planning and management. Its strength was continent-wide analysis of complex data sets. The CGIS was never available in a commercial form. Its initial development and success stimulated various commercial mapping applications being sold by vendors such as ESRI, MapInfo, Intergraph and CARIS to successfully incorporate many of the CGIS features, combining the first generation approach to separation of spatial and attribute information with a second generation approach to organizing attribute data into database structures. The 1980s and 1990s industry growth were spurred on by the growing use of GIS on Unix workstations and the personal computer. By the end of the 20th century, the rapid growth in various systems had been consolidated and standardized on relatively few platforms and users were beginning to export the concept of viewing GIS data over the Internet, requiring data format and transfer standards. More recently, there is a growing flavor of free, opensource GIS packages such as GRASS GIS and Quantum GIS which run on a range of operating systems and can be customised to perform specific tasks.


    Techniques used in GIS


    Data Creation

    Modern GIS technologies rely on digital information, for which there are a number of collection methods. The most common method of data creation is digitization, where a hardcopy map or survey plan is transferred into a digital medium through the use of a Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) program, and georeferencing capabilities.


    Relating information from different sources

    If you could relate information about the rainfall of your state to aerial photographs of your county, you might be able to tell which wetlands dry up at certain times of the year. A GIS, which can use information from many different sources in many different forms, can help with such analyses. The primary requirement for the source data consists of knowing the locations for the variables. Location may be annotated by x,y, and z coordinates of longitude, latitude, and elevation, or by other geocode systems like ZIP Codes or by highway mile markers. Any variable that can be located spatially can be fed into a GIS. Several computer databases that can be directly entered into a GIS are being produced by government agencies and non-government organizations. Different kinds of data in map form can be entered into a GIS.

    A GIS can also convert existing digital information, which may not yet be in map form, into forms it can recognize and use. For example, digital satellite images generated through remote sensing can be analyzed to produce a map-like layer of digital information about vegetative covers. Another fairly developed resource for naming GIS objects is the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (GTGN), which is a structured vocabulary containing around 1,000,000 names and other information about places[1].

    Likewise, census or hydrologic tabular data can be converted to map-like form, serving as layers of thematic information in a GIS.


    Data representation

    GIS data represents real world objects (roads, land use, elevation) with digital data. Real world objects can be divided into two abstractions: discrete objects (a house) and continuous fields (rain fall amount or elevation). There are two broad methods used to store data in a GIS for both abstractions: Raster and Vector.

    Digital Elevation Model (DEM) + Map (image) + Vector dataRaster data type consists of rows and columns of cells where in each cell is stored a single value. Most often, raster data are images (raster images), but besides just color, the value recorded for each cell may be a discrete value, such as land use, a continuous value, such as rainfall, or a null value if no data is available. While a raster cell stores a single value, it can be extended by using raster bands to represent RGB (red, green, blue) colors, colormaps (a mapping between a thematic code and RGB value), or an extended attribute table with one row for each unique cell value. The resolution of the raster dataset is its cell width in ground units. For example, in a LIDAR raster image, each cell is a pixel that represents an area of 3 meters by 3 meters. Usually cells represent square areas of the ground, but other shapes can also be used.

    Vector data type uses geometries such as points, lines (series of point coordinates), or polygons, also called areas (shapes bounded by lines), to represent objects. Examples include property boundaries for a housing subdivision represented as polygons and well locations represented as points. Vector features can be made to respect spatial integrity through the application of topology rules such as 'polygons must not overlap'. Vector data can also be used to represent continuously varying phenomena. Contour lines and triangulated irregular networks (TIN) are used to represent elevation or other continuously changing values. TINs record values at point locations, which are connected by lines to form an irregular mesh of triangles. The face of the triangles represent the terrain surface.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to using a raster or vector data model to represent reality. Raster datasets record a value for all points in the area covered which may require more storage space than representing data in a vector format that can store data only where needed. Raster data also allows easy implementation of overlay operations, which are more difficult with vector data. Vector data can be displayed as vector graphics used on traditional maps, whereas raster data will appear as an image that may have a blocky appearance for object boundaries.

    Additional non-spatial data can also be stored besides the spatial data represented by the coordinates of a vector geometry or the position of a raster cell. In vector data, the additional data are attributes of the object. For example, a forest inventory polygon may also have an identifier value and information about tree species. In raster data the cell value can store attribute information, but it can also be used as an identifier that can relate to records in another table.


    Data capture

    Data capture—entering information into the system—consumes much of the time of GIS practitioners. There are a variety of methods used to enter data into a GIS where it is stored in a digital format.

    Existing data printed on paper or PET film maps can be digitized or scanned to produce digital data. A digitizer produces vector data as an operator traces points, lines, and polygon boundaries from a map. Scanning a map results in raster data that could be further processed to produce vector data.

    Survey data can be directly entered into a GIS from digital data collection systems on survey instruments. Positions from a Global Positioning System (GPS), another survey tool, can also be directly entered into a GIS.

    Remotely sensed data also plays an important role in data collection and consist of sensors attached to a platform. Sensors include cameras, digital scanners and LIDAR, while platforms usually consist of aircraft and satellites.

    The majority of digital data currently comes from photo interpretation of aerial photographs. Soft copy workstations are used to digitize features directly from stereo pairs of digital photographs. These systems allow data to be captured in 2 and 3 dimensions, with elevations measured directly from a stereo pair using principles of photogrammetry. Currently, analog aerial photos are scanned before being entered into a soft copy system, but as high quality digital cameras become cheaper this step will be skipped.

    Satellite remote sensing provides another important source of spatial data. Here satellites use different sensor packages to passively measure the reflectance from parts of the electromagnetic spectrum or radio waves that were sent out from an active sensor such as radar. Remote sensing collects raster data that can be further processed to identify objects and classes of interest, such as land cover.

    When data is captured, the user should consider if the data should be captured with either a relative accuracy or absolute accuracy, since this could not only influence how information will be interpreted but also the cost of data capture.

    In addition to collecting and entering spatial data, attribute data is also entered into a GIS. For vector data this includes additional information about the objects represented in the system.

    After entering data into a GIS, it usually requires editing, to remove errors, or further processing. For vector data it must be made "topologically correct" before it can be used for some advanced analysis. For example, in a road network, lines must connect with nodes at an intersection. Errors such as undershoots and overshoots must also be removed. For scanned maps, blemishes on the source map may need to be removed from the resulting raster. For example, a fleck of dirt might connect two lines that should not be connected.


    Data manipulation

    Data restructuring can be performed by a GIS to convert data into different formats. For example, a GIS may be used to convert a satellite image map to a vector structure by generating lines around all cells with the same classification, while determining the cell spatial relationships, such as adjacency or inclusion.

    Since digital data are collected and stored in various ways, the two data sources may not be entirely compatible. So a GIS must be able to convert geographic data from one structure to another.


    Projections, coordinate systems and registration

    A property ownership map and a soils map might show data at different scales. Map information in a GIS must be manipulated so that it registers, or fits, with information gathered from other maps. Before the digital data can be analyzed, they may have to undergo other manipulations—projection and coordinate conversions, for example—that integrate them into a GIS.

    The earth can be represented by various models, each of which may provide a different set of coordinates (e.g., latitude, longitude, elevation) for any given point on the earth's surface. The simplest model is to assume the earth is a perfect sphere. As more measurements of the earth have accumulated, the models of the earth have become more sophisticated and more accurate. In fact, there are models that apply to different areas of the earth to provide increased accuracy (e.g., North American Datum, 1983 - NAD83 - works well in North America, but not in Europe). See Datum for more information.

    Projection is a fundamental component of map making. A projection is a mathematical means of transferring information from a model of the Earth, which represents a three-dimensional curved surface, to a two-dimensional medium—paper or a computer screen. Different projections are used for different types of maps because each projection particularly suits certain uses. For example, a projection that accurately represents the shapes of the continents will distort their relative sizes. See Map projection for more information.

    Since much of the information in a GIS comes from existing maps, a GIS uses the processing power of the computer to transform digital information, gathered from sources with different projections and/or different coordinate systems, to a common projection and coordinate system.


    Spatial analysis with GIS


    Data modeling

    It is difficult to relate wetlands maps to rainfall amounts recorded at different points such as airports, television stations, and high schools. A GIS, however, can be used to depict two- and three-dimensional characteristics of the Earth's surface, subsurface, and atmosphere from information points. For example, a GIS can quickly generate a map with isopleth lines that indicate differing amounts of rainfall.

    Such a map can be thought of as a rainfall contour map. Many sophisticated methods can estimate the characteristics of surfaces from a limited number of point measurements. A two-dimensional contour map created from the surface modeling of rainfall point measurements may be overlaid and analyzed with any other map in a GIS covering the same area.

    Additionally, from a series of three-dimensional points, or digital elevation model, isopleth lines representing elevation contours can be generated, along with slope analysis, shaded relief, and other elevation products. Watersheds can be easily defined for any given reach, by computing all of the areas contiguous and uphill from any given point of interest. Similarly, an expected thalweg of where surface water would want to travel in intermittent and permanent streams can be computed from elevation data in the GIS.


    Topological modeling

    In the past years, were there any gas stations or factories operating next to the swamp? Any within two miles and uphill from the swamp? A GIS can recognize and analyze the spatial relationships that exist within digitally stored spatial data. These topological relationships allow complex spatial modelling and analysis to be performed. Topological relationships between geometric entities traditionally include adjacency (what adjoins what), containment (what encloses what), and proximity (how close something is to something else).



    If all the factories near a wetland were accidentally to release chemicals into the river at the same time, how long would it take for a damaging amount of pollutant to enter the wetland reserve? A GIS can simulate the routing of materials along a linear network. Values such as slope, speed limit, or pipe diameter can be incorporated into network modelling in order to represent the flow of the phenomenon more accurately. Network modelling is commonly employed in transportation planning, hydrology modelling, and infrastructure modelling.


    Cartographic modeling

    The term "cartographic modeling" was (probably) coined by Dana Tomlin in his PhD dissertation and later in his book which has the term in the title. C.m. refers to a process where several thematic layers of the same area are produced, processed, and analyzed. Tomlin used raster layers but the overlay method (see below) can be used more generally. Operations on map layers can be combined into algorithms, and eventually into simulation or optimization models.


    Map overlay

    The combination of two separate spatial datasets (points, lines or polygons) to create a new output vector dataset. These overlays are similar to mathematical Venn diagram overlays. A union overlay combines the geographic features and attribute tables of both inputs into a single new output. An intersect overlay defines the area where both inputs overlap and retains a set of attribute fields for each. A symmetric difference overlay defines an output area that includes the total area of both inputs except for the overlapping area.

    Data extraction is a GIS process similar to vector overlay, though it can be used in either vector or raster data analysis. Rather than combining the properties and features of both datasets, data extraction involves using a "clip" or "mask" to extract the features of one dataset that fall within the spatial extent of another dataset.

    In raster data analysis, the overlay of datasets is accomplished through a process known as "local operation on multiple rasters" or "map algebra," through a function that combines the values of each raster's matrix. This function may weigh some inputs more than others through use of an "index model" that reflects the influence of various factors upon a geographic phenomenon.


    Automated Cartography

    Digital cartography and GIS both encode spatial relationships in structured formal representations. GIS is used in digital cartography modeling as (semi)automated process of making maps, so called Automated Cartography. In practice, it can be a subset of a GIS, within which it is equivalent to the stage of visualization, since in most cases not all of the GIS functionality is used. Cartographic products can be either in a digital or in a hardcopy format. Powerful analysis techniques with different data representation can produce high-quality maps within short time period.

    This section is a stub. You can help by adding to it.


    Spatial Statistics (Geostatistics)

    Using Geostatistics to predict fields from points. Point pattern analysis. A way of looking at the statistical properties of spatial data. What makes it unique from other kinds of statistics is the use of graph theory and matrix algebra to reduce the number of parameters in the data being analyzed. This is necessary because it is actually the second-order properties of the GIS data that need analyzing.

    When we measure any phenomena, our observation methods dictate the accuracy of any subsequent analysis. Whether our study is concerned with the nature of traffic patterns in an urban core, or with the analysis of weather patterns over the Pacific, there will always contain a variable or a degree of precision which escapes our measurement; this is determined directly by the scale and distribution of our data collection, or survey methods. In order to apply statistical relevance to spatial analysis, an 'average' must be determined so that points, or gradients, outside of any immediate measurement may be included as to their predicted behavior. Limitations in statistics and data collection mean that it is impossible to directly measure a continuum without the inferential methods of analysis, of which, several forms of interpolation are used in order to predict the behavior of particles and locations not directly measured.

    Hillshade model derived from a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the Valestra area in the northern Apennines (Italy)Interpolation is the process by which a surface is created, usually a raster dataset, through the input of data collected at a number of sample points. There are several forms of interpolation, each which treats the data differently, depending on the properties of the dataset. In comparing interpolation methods, the first consideration should be whether or not the source data will change (exact or approximate). Next is whether the method is subjective, a human interpretation, or objective. Then there is the nature of transitions between points, are they abrupt or gradual. Finally there is whether a method is global, it uses the entire dataset to form the model, or local, an algorithm is repeated for a small section of terrain.

    Digital Elevation Models (DEM), Digital Terrain Models (DTM), Triangulated Irregular Networks (TIN), Edge finding algorithms, Theissen Polygons, Fourier analysis, Weighted moving averages, Inverse Distance Weighted, Moving averages, Kriging, Spline, Trend surface analysis.

    Regionalized variable theory

    Spatial Autocorrelation Principle: Data collected at any position will have a greater similarity to, or influence on, those locations within its immediate vicinity.

    This section is a stub. You can help by adding to it.



    Geocoding is calculating spatial locations (X,Y coordinates) from street addresses. A reference theme is required to geocode individual addresses, such as a road centerline file with address ranges. The individual address locations are interpolated, or estimated, by examining address ranges along a road segment. These are usually provided in the form of a table or database. The GIS will then place a dot approximately where that address belongs along the segment of centerline. For example, an address point of 500 will be at the midpoint of a line segment that starts with address 1 and ends with address 1000. Geocoding can also be applied against actual parcel data, typically from municipal tax maps. In this case, the result of the geocoding will be an actually positioned space as opposed to an interpolated point.

    It should be noted that there are several (potentially dangerous) caveats that are often overlooked when using interpolation. See the full entry for Geocoding for more information.

    Various algorithms are used to help with address matching when the spellings of addresses differ. Address information that a particular entity or organization has data on, such as the post office, may not entirely match the reference theme. There could be variations in street name spelling, community name, etc. Consequently, the user generally has the ability to make matching criteria more stringent, or to relax those parameters so that more addresses will be mapped. Care must be taken to review the results so as not to erroneously map addresses incorrectly due to overzealous matching parameters.


    Reverse geocoding

    Reverse geocoding is the process of returning an estimated street address number as it relates to a given coordinate. For example, a user can click on a road centerline theme (thus providing a coordinate) and have information returned that reflects the estimated house number. This house number is interpolated from a range assigned to that road segment. If the user clicks at the midpoint of a segment that starts with address 1 and ends with 100, the returned value will be somewhere near 50. Note that reverse geocoding does not return actual addresses, only estimates of what should be there based on the predetermined range.


    Data output and cartography

    Cartography is the design and production of maps, or visual representations of spatial data. The vast majority of modern cartography is done with the help of computers, usually using a GIS. Most GIS software gives the user substantial control over the appearance of the data.

    Cartographic work serves two major functions:

    First, it produces graphics on the screen or on paper that convey the results of analysis to the people who make decisions about resources. Wall maps and other graphics can be generated, allowing the viewer to visualize and thereby understand the results of analyses or simulations of potential events. Web Map Servers facilitate distribution of generated maps via the web technology.

    Second, other database information can be generated for further analysis or use. A list of all addresses within 1 mile of a toxic spill for instance.


    Graphic display techniques

    Traditional maps are abstractions of the real world, a sampling of important elements portrayed on a sheet of paper with symbols to represent physical objects. People who use maps must interpret these symbols. Topographic maps show the shape of land surface with contour lines; the actual shape of the land can be seen only in the mind's eye.

    Today, graphic display techniques such as shading based on altitude in a GIS can make relationships among map elements visible, heightening one's ability to extract and analyze information. For example, two types of data were combined in a GIS to produce a perspective view of a portion of San Mateo County, California.

    The digital elevation model, consisting of surface elevations recorded on a 30-meter horizontal grid, shows high elevations as white and low elevation as black.

    The accompanying Landsat Thematic Mapper image shows a false-color infrared image looking down at the same area in 30-meter pixels, or picture elements, for the same coordinate points, pixel by pixel, as the elevation information.

    A GIS was used to register and combine the two images to render the three-dimensional perspective view looking down the San Andreas Fault, using the Thematic Mapper image pixels, but shaded using the elevation of the landforms. The GIS display depends on the viewing point of the observer and time of day of the display, to properly render the shadows created by the sun's rays at that latitude, longitude, and time of day.


    GIS software

    See the List of GIS software.


    Open Source GIS Software

    Most requirements that can be set for a GIS can be satisfied with free or open-source software. Recently an international foundation (OSGEO) was started to support and build the highest-quality open source geospatial software.

    With the broad use of non-proprietary and open data formats such as the Shape File format for vector data and the Geotiff format for raster data, as well as the adoption of Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) protocols such as Web Mapping Service (WMS) and Web Feature Service (WFS), development of open source software continues to evolve, especially for web and web service oriented applications.

    Well-known open source GIS software includes GRASS GIS, Quantum GIS, MapServer, GDAL/OGR, PostGIS, uDig, etc.


    The future of GIS

    Many disciplines can benefit from GIS techniques. An active GIS market has resulted in lower costs and continual improvements in the hardware and software components of GIS. These developments will, in turn, result in a much wider use of the technology throughout science, government, business, and industry, with applications including real estate, public health, crime mapping, national defense, sustainable development, natural resources, transportation and logistics.

    GIS is also developing into Location Based Services (nearest convenience store, restaurant, bar). These services are having a second birth with the switch on of the European GPS service; bringing cheaper and smaller GPS devices integrated with everyday objects (Cell phones, PDA's, Laptops).

    GIS has also been given mass-market appeal by the emergence of Google Earth and Street Map sites. Suddenly a person's life travels can be plotted and studied by friends and family. Holidays can be planned with information such as shops, restaurants, local interest sites and even where to find a US Warship in a hurry!


    OGC standards

    Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) in short is an international industry consortium of 257 companies, government agencies and universities participating in a consensus process to develop publicly available geoprocessing specifications. Open interfaces and protocols defined by OpenGIS Specifications support interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream IT, and empower technology developers to make complex spatial information and services accessible and useful with all kinds of applications.

    Compliant Products, that is, software products that comply to OGC's OpenGIS® Specifications. When a product has been tested and certified as compliant through the OGC Testing Program, the product is automatically registered as "compliant" on this site.

    Implementing Products, that is, software products that implement OpenGIS Specifications but have not yet passed a compliance test. (Compliance tests are not available for all specifications.) Developers can register their products as implementing draft or approved specifications. (OGC reserves the right to review and verify each entry.)

    This section is a stub. You can help by adding to it.


    Web mapping

    Google Maps is different from other web map servers (like MapQuest, Yahoo! Maps, or Rand McNally) because Google Maps exposes an API that enables users to associate attributes with interactive maps. This is in effect a GIS. However Google Maps is largely "point" oriented and other than using different point markers, you have to click on the markers to get the metadata.


    Global change and climate history program

    Maps have traditionally been used to explore the Earth and to exploit its resources. GIS technology, as an expansion of cartographic science, has enhanced the efficiency and analytic power of traditional mapping. Now, as the scientific community recognizes the environmental consequences of human activity, GIS technology is becoming an essential tool in the effort to understand the process of global change. Various map and satellite information sources can combine in modes that simulate the interactions of complex natural systems.

    Through a function known as visualization, a GIS can be used to produce images - not just maps, but drawings, animations, and other cartographic products. These images allow researchers to view their subjects in ways that literally never have been seen before. The images often are equally helpful in conveying the technical concepts of GIS study-subjects to non-scientists.


    Adding the dimension of time

    The condition of the Earth's surface, atmosphere, and subsurface can be examined by feeding satellite data into a GIS. GIS technology gives researchers the ability to examine the variations in Earth processes over days, months, and years.

    As an example, the changes in vegetation vigor through a growing season can be animated to determine when drought was most extensive in a particular region. The resulting graphic, known as a normalized vegetation index, represents a rough measure of plant health. Working with two variables over time would then allow researchers to detect regional differences in the lag between a decline in rainfall and its effect on vegetation.

    GIS technology and the availability of digital data on regional and global scales enable such analyses. The satellite sensor output used to generate a vegetation graphic is produced by the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer or AVHRR. This sensor system detects the amounts of energy reflected from the Earth's surface across various bands of the spectrum for surface areas of about 1 square kilometer. The satellite sensor produces images of a particular location on the Earth twice a day. AVHRR is only one of many sensor systems used for Earth surface analysis. More sensors will follow, generating ever greater amounts of data.

    GIS and related technology will help greatly in the management and analysis of these large volumes of data, allowing for better understanding of terrestrial processes and better management of human activities to maintain world economic vitality and environmental quality.

    In addition to the integration of time in environmental studies, GIS is also being explored for its ability to track and model the progress of humans throughout their daily routines. A concrete example of progress in this area is the recent release of time-specific population data by the US Census. In this data set, the populations of cities are shown for daytime and evening hours highlighting the pattern of concentration and dispersion generated by North American commuting patterns. The manipulation and generation of data required to produce this data would not have been possible without GIS.


    See also


    Digital raster graphic





    List of GIS software

    Open GIS Consortium

    Remote sensing

    Virtual globe

    Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER), an US standard for GIS data



    Berry, J.K. 1993. "Beyond Mapping: Concepts, Algorithms and Issues in GIS". Fort Collins, CO: GIS World Books.

    Burrough, P.A. and McDonnell, R.A., 1998. Principles of geographical information systems. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 327 pp. [2]

    Chang, K.S., 2005, Introduction to Geographic Information System, McGraw Hill, 3rd edition.

    Heywood, I., Cornelius, S., and Carver, S. 2002. An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems. Andison Wesley Longman. 2nd edition.

    Longley, P.A., Goodchild, M.F., Maguire, D.J. and Rhind, D.W. (2005): Geographic Information Systems and Science. Chichester: Wiley. 2nd edition.[3]

    Thurston, J., Poiker, T.K. and J. Patrick Moore. (2003):"Integrated Geospatial Technologies: A Guide to GPS, GIS, and Data Logging". Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. [4]

    Wise, S. 2002. "GIS Basics". London: Taylor & Francis.

    Worboys, Michael, and Matt Duckham. 2004. GIS: a computing perspective. Boca Raton: CRC Press. [5]

    Wheatley, David and Gillings, Mark, 2002. Spatial Technology and Archaeology. The Archaeological Application of GIS. London, New York, Taylor & Francis.


    University Degree Programmes

    Many universities and colleges offer degree programs in GIS. Many others offer degrees in other fields with a concentration in GIS use, development, etc. In the past programs offering degrees, course work or research in the use or development of GIS was rare, however, today such programs are common.


    External links

    To meet Wikipedia's quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup.

    Please discuss this issue on the talk page, or replace this tag with a more specific message. Editing help is available.

    This article has been tagged since May 2006.

    For public geodata campaign.

    British Columbia Land and Resource Data Warehouse links to several sources of spatial data.

    BC mapsWeb mapping applications for the government of British Columbia.

    ClearMaps.comLinks to the GIS industry.

    Coweeta LTER GISGIS for the southern Appalachians.

    ConnoteaConnotea links for GIS and Google Earth.

    Directions Magazine — GIS industry news, events, discussion, etc.

    Environmental Systems Research Institute's website for GIS software

    Federal Geographic Data Committee — United States federal government standards agency

    Freegis.org software overview on Free Geographic Information Systems and communication on developments, plans, infos on Free GIS Software and Free Geo-Data

    FreeGISBook — WiKi project to develop a community based book and documents on free GIS programs and open standards.

    Geoconnexion Int'l Magazine — Geoinformation Serving the World

    Geocode America: US Address Geocoding. Java/.NET/Ruby sample SOAP/REST APIs. Free for non-commercial use

    Geocode Multiple Addresses — Free batch geocoder for U.S. and Canada, works on tabular data sources.

    GE Energy — GE Energy's Geospatial Asset Management

    Geoplace — free source of GIS Industry information

    Giiki Wiki GIS — English-language wiki for Geographic Information Systems and amateur imagery/IMINT.

    GIS.COM — A portal to GIS information on the Web. The site showcases how people use GIS and geospatial technology and provides GIS users with links to resources to help them in their work.

    GISLounge.com — Articles and useful links to GIS and cartography related web resources.

    GISuser.com GIS news, jobs, articles, discussion, webmap gallery, daily newsletter, and more.

    giscorps.org — A program under URISA, GISCorps is a vehicle for GIS experts from all over the world to volunteer their time to developing economies across the globe.

    GISWiki - a wiki for geoinformatics

    Lunar GIS

    NCGIA Core Curriculum in GIS — lecture notes for educators written by the National Center for Geographic Information Analysis (NCGIA).

    NITLE Initititive on GIS in Education

    Open Geospatial Consortium

    GIS jobs and resume posting

    Open Source Geospatial Foundation

    Open Source GIS Master Index of Open Source GIS Software

    www.planiglobe.com Interactive mapserver with country and city search, offers vector versions (Postscript, Illustrator) for download. Free usage (cc-by licence).

    slashgeo.org — GIS ad-free non-commercial news and discussions.

    spatiallink_org — Linking Spatial Professionals and Volunteers Through Search, Profile, News, Blog, Forum, Map, Chat, WIKI, WAP and Other GIS Tools

    Essay on GIS in relation to urban and landscape design

    URISA - URISA is a nonprofit association of professionals using GIS and other information technologies to solve challenges in state/provincial, regional, and local government agencies.

    UNIGIS — worldwide consortium of universities providing postgraduate courses by distance-learning.

    WALIS — Western Australia Land Information System - Coordinating geographic information for Western Australia

    Web-based GIS: An Overview of Sites and Resources

    Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographic_informatio...

    Categories: Articles with sections needing expansion | Cleanup from May 2006 | Geographic Information Systems

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  • 1 decade ago

    depending on context

    Geographic Information System


    Geographic Information Science.

    A Geographic Information System basically is an information system which can be analyzed by spatial analysis.

    The information kept in a database which gives it a relation to a geographic feature which may be a point, line, area or volume, which may have defined a period of validity, and many more options. The difference to an ordinary (database-based) information system is that the information can be accessed via interactive maps, and that spatial relations can be used to analyze existing data and to generate new data.

    Geographic Information Science is a new branch of both Information Science and Geography which deals with methods of generating such information systems, modeling etc.

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  • 5 years ago

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Geographic Information System.

    Basically an electronic database used for producing maps.

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    An organized collection of computer hardware, software, geographic data, and personnel designed to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, integrate, analyze, and display all forms of geographically referenced information.

  • 1 decade ago

    i think (Geography information system)

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