Geographic Information System (GIS)
GIS is the geographic display of both natural environmental and man-made features of an area, as well as data (attributes) associated with these features. Thus maps created by a GIS show locations ( such as the location of county facilities or all the homes in a subdivision) and information about these locations ( such as the type and quantity of specific services each facility provides or they property valuations of subdivision homes).
Information used in a GIS can come from a variety of sources, including in-house databases, purchased databases ( such as census data), data in word processing programs, and maps of virtually any theme.
In the public sector a GIS can greatly increase productivity and eliminate duplication – and thereby deplete fewer scarce resources. And it tremendously assists decision-making in a way that is not otherwise possible.
Generally, there are four primary uses for a GIS.
Strictly as a presentation tool, a GIS shows the spatial patterns of information. For example, for a business occupying multiple floors or multiple buildings, a GIS can show who has what kind of computer in seconds by the touch of a button.
It allows you to query databases, organize and show the data geographically, and manipulate / analyze the data. In the public sector, for example, once you know the valuations of property, you can have the GIS display all houses in a certain area valued at less than 80% or greater than 120% of all houses with specific characteristics.
A GIS cannot only query a database, but because of its analysis capabilities, it can aid in your planning and decision making process like no other tool.
It can be used by businesses and government agencies to determine the minimum path or best route to get from point A to point B.
Equally as important, this display and analysis of data offers users greater productivity and time savings, which in turn provides cost savings.
Companies pionieers in this field:
• General Electric
MapInfo Corporation, initially incorporated as Navigational Technologies Incorporated, was a leading Location Intelligence and GIS company, Headquartered in North Greenbush, New York. It was acquired on April 19, 2007 by Pitney Bowes, and on January 28, 2009, the name of division of Pitney Bowes it had become was changed to Pitney Bowes Business Insight. MapInfo grew quickly, appearing at number 23 in Inc. Magazine’s annual list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. in 1992, and holding an initial public offering (IPO) in 1994. Its products included a desk-top mapping application, various map and demographic data products, and some web-based applications. It acquired several other companies in order to market their software, data, or services directly.
GIS History and future:
Information has always been the cornerstone of effective decisions. Spatial information is particularly complex as it requires two descriptors—Where is What. For thousands of years the link between the two descriptors has been the traditional, manually drafted map involving pens, rub-on shading, rulers, planimeters, dot grids, and acetate sheets. Its historical use was for navigation through unfamiliar terrain and seas, emphasizing the accurate location of physical features.
More recently, analysis of mapped data has become an important part of understanding and managing geographic space. This new perspective marks a turning point in the use of maps from one emphasizing physical description of geographic space, to one of interpreting mapped data, combining map layers and finally, to spatially characterizing and communicating complex spatial relationships. This movement from “where is what” (descriptive) to “so what and why” (prescriptive) has set the stage for entirely new geospatial concepts and tools.
Since the 1960’s, the decision-making process has become increasingly quantitative, and mathematical models have become commonplace. Prior to the computerized map, most spatial analyses were severely limited by their manual processing procedures. The computer has provided the means for both efficient handling of voluminous data and effective spatial analysis capabilities. From this perspective, all geographic information systems are rooted in the digital nature of the computerized map.
The coining of the term Geographic Information Systems reinforces this movement from maps as images to mapped data. In fact, information is GIS’s middle name. Of course, there have been other, more descriptive definitions of the acronym, such as “Gee It’s Stupid,” or “Guessing Is Simpler,” or my personal favorite, “Guaranteed Income Stream.”
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(GIS) Geographic Information System
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