Educational Resources

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. 

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How Do You Use GIS?

GIS is important today because it is able to bring together information from multiple sources so that various types of work can be done. In order to do this though, the data must be tied to a specific location on the Earth's surface. Latitude and longitude are usually used for this and the locations to be viewed are attached to their points on the geographic grid.

In order to then do an analysis, another set of data is layered on top of the first one to show spatial patterns and relationships. For example, elevation at specific locations can show up in the first layer and then rates of precipitation at various places in the same area can be in the second. Through a GIS analysis patterns about elevation and the amount of precipitation then arise.

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Other Useful Resources
  • What is Geomatics - the discipline of gathering, storing, processing, and delivering geographic information, or spatially referenced information. 
  • What is Cartography - the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.