Wednesday Word of the Week: GIS

GIS (Geographic Information Systems): [Technical Geography]
Noun: A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyze, and understand spatial patterns and relationships.

With GIS technology, people can compare the locations of different things in order to discover how they relate to one another. For example, using GIS, the same map could include sites that produce pollution, such as gas stations, and sites that are sensitive to pollution, such as wetlands. Such a map would help people determine which wetlands are most at risk.

map.JPGGIS can use any information that includes location. The location can be expressed in many different ways, such as latitude and longitude, address, or ZIP code. Many different types of information can be compared and contrasted using GIS. The system can include data about people, such as population, income, or education level. It can include information about the land, such as the location of streams, different kinds of vegetation, and different kinds of soil. It can include information about the sites of factories, farms, and schools, or storm drains, roads, and electric power lines.

Interested in learning more about how to use GIS? Test out the National Geographic Education Mapmaker Interactive. This is pre-GIS tool that incorporates some of the most basic features of a GIS. If you enjoy the process and want to do more real map analysis, check out ESRI, where you can purchase mapping software packages like ArcMap that provide sophisticated functionality for your mapping needs!

Photo Credit: National Geographic Education, MapMaker Interactive
–Julia from My Wonderful World

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