General Information

What is GIS?

GIS stands for 'geographic information system', a special kind of information system using computers to work with information special information about what is where on the Earth's surface

There are many kinds of information:

  • text: computers are used as word processors to create, edit, send, and receive text

why use computers to handle information?

easy to store, retrieve, query, manipulate, send, receive, copy, display...

Most of these things can be done by hand, but only slowly.

Paper maps are difficult to handle, store, send, receive, copy...

GIS makes all of these operations easier.

Today, all kinds of information are being handled in computers. It is good to have one place to go for all kinds of information. One system, the Internet, is used to send, receive all kinds of information.

How Would I Know One if I Saw One?

There are two distinct meanings of the question "is this a GIS?"

  1. a type of software sold by a software developer (compare Microsoft Word)

focus on (1) first

  • some extra bits perhaps
  • not all GISs will need these.
  • what's important is the kind of information that's stored

The functions that a GIS can perform are part of its software.

  • who needs to know what is where?
  • these are just a few of the most important uses:

Defining a GIS project

  • where will the data come from?
  • how to build a database
  • how to operate a GIS
  • understanding the results