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All About GIS - A Comprehensive Guide

The term GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. It is a method that examines, organizes and displays information that is found at a fixed position by using geography and mapping software. GIS has been used in a variety of ways to change systems, help people, and plan future projects.

The History of Geographic Information Systems

Historically, GIS has evolved with the production of maps. Early use of maps to define areas of change or to plot systems of development is the preliminary form of GIS. As years progressed, the use of maps became more updated with operation of software and digital images to change and track information. Media was available for presentation of results. As communication methods advanced, the process of conveying statistics expanded. Eventually, the methods of GIS software were patented, offering software applications for sale to consulting firms, government agencies, and institutions of higher learning to be able to incorporate GIS into their daily practice.

How does GIS work?

GIS is the use of geography in digitized form. Remote sensing is a scan of the topography of the earth through satellite or aerial view. The information from remote sensing can be loaded into GIS software to transfer it to a mapping program. A person using GIS software can take information that is specific to a certain location and analyze it, make comparisons with other data, store the information, and present it to others for many purposes. GIS presents information using rastor data, similar to a digital photograph. This demonstrates specific pictures of topography and physical features on a map. Colors, depth, height, land area, and physical characteristics can be added for presentation. For example, a body of water on a map lists its depth and circumference. If, after a period of flooding the diameter of the body of water changes, this can be reflected on the system, as well as its depth. Data for maps must be scanned into software programs; data from surveying must be entered; and aerial photographs and satellite images must be scanned before use of the software. Utilizing this system can help project future changes and distributions in the environment.

GIS in the Workforce

GIS is used in the professional sector by many different agencies and companies. Departments of transportation for cities use GIS software to view the layout of traffic patterns and analyze what changes should be made when planning new designs for streets and transportation equipment. Environmentalists use GIS to determine location of protected areas and how to better facilitate building projects around these areas while keeping them intact. Establishments such as government agencies, public health organizations, historical referencing companies, consulting firms, urban planners, and many more use GIS. Many universities are offering degrees in GIS or certificates of completion for training and courses in the software.

Types of Software Available

Much of the GIS software makes a map, and finds arrangements of structures on the map. For example, weather related companies could use software to determine what areas on a map received the most snowfall. Some types of software show mapping quantities and distribution, such as determining who lives in an area that uses public transportation. GIS software programs show concentrations of people, objects, and information in specific zones to compare more concentrated areas than less. For instance, an oceanographer may use it to discover where the majority of species of a certain type of whale are located. GIS software is available for purchase for many companies that want to use mapping and geography to answer their questions. There are many commercial forms available. GIS continues to be the future of digital cartography. It is a method that has endless possibilities for further exploration of geography, science, and beyond.

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