Geographic Information System – power of mapping the future!

Can the concept of maps and mapping ever be fascinating? Why not!

We know that maps make geographic information easier to understand. But because they are static, they become obsolete in most cases.

With evolving expertise and powerful equipment, the geospatial idea has progressed speedily from maps to apps. And one of the fastest growing theories in today’s world in this regard is the Geographic Information System (GIS).

GIS is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. It can show different kinds of data on one single map. This enables people to easily view, analyse and understand the patterns and relationships.

It has become a common supply of data and is being employed by many industries either directly or indirectly.

With GIS technology, people can compare locations in order to discover how they relate to each other. For example, using GIS, the same map could include sites that cause 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.

GIS can use any information that involves location. The location can be expressed in several ways, such as in the form of latitude and longitude, address, or as ZIP code. Information can be compared and contrasted using this technology. The system can include data about people, such as population, income, or education level or territorial information, such as the location of streams, vegetation, and soil. It can include information about the sites of factories, farms, and schools, or storm drains, roads, and electric power lines.

Data and GIS

Data in various formats can be entered into the GIS – data which is already in map form, which includes information such as the location of rivers and roads, hills and valleys, digital or computerized data, such as information collected by satellites that show land use—the location of farms, towns, or forests and data in the tabular form, such as population information. GIS technology allows all of these informations, irrespective of their source or original format, to be overlaid on top of one another on a single map.

Data that are already in the digital form, such as images taken by satellites and most tables, can simply be uploaded into GIS, while maps must be scanned, or converted into digital format. This process of transmitting information into GIS is called data capture.

GIS must make the information from all the maps and sources align, so that they fit together. The reason why this is necessary is because maps have different scales. A scale is the relationship between the distance on a map and the actual distance on Earth. GIS combines the information from different sources in such a way that all of them have the same scale.

Often, GIS must also manipulate the data because different maps have different projections. A projection is the method of transferring information from Earth’s curved surface to a flat piece of paper or computer screen. No projection can copy the reality of Earth’s curved surface perfectly. Different projections accomplish this task in different ways, but all of them have some distortion. To transfer a curved, three-dimensional shape onto a flat surface inevitably requires stretching some parts while squeezing others. A world map can show either the correct sizes of countries or their correct shapes, but it can’t do both. GIS takes data from maps that were made using different projections and combines them so that all the information can be displayed using one common projection.

GIS Maps

Once all of the desired data enters into a GIS system, it can be combined to produce a wide variety of individual maps, depending on which data layers are included. For instance, using GIS technology, diversified information can be shown about a single city. Maps can be produced in a way that they relate information such as average income, book sales, and voting patterns. Further, any GIS data layer can be added or subtracted to the same map.

GIS maps can be used to display information about number and density. For example, GIS can be used to show how many doctors are available in different areas with respect to population. They can also show information such as what premises lie in flood- prone areas. With GIS technology, researchers can use satellite data to study cases such as what extent of Polar Regions are covered in ice. A police department can also study changes in crime data to help determine the place of assignment of officers.

GIS often contains a large variety of data that does not appear in an onscreen or printed maps. This technology sometimes allows users to access this information. A person can point to a spot on a computerized map to find other information stored in the GIS about that location. For example, a user might click on a school to find how many students are enrolled, how many students there are per teacher, or what sports facilities the school has. GIS systems are often used to produce three-dimensional images. This is useful, for example, to geologists in the study of faults.

GIS technology makes updating maps much easier. Updated data can simply be added to the existing GIS program. A new map can then be printed or displayed on screen. This skips the traditional process of drawing the map all over again, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

The incredible reaction that this technology has received over the last 20 years is not a matter of chance. GIS is today used in managing architecture, archaeology, disaster management, transportation, forest management, medical resource management and crime statistics. Many ventures make use of GIS to help them locate, say, a new store. Biologists use GIS to track animal migration patterns. City officials use GIS to help plan their response in the case of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane. GIS maps can show these officials the neighbourhoods that are most prone to danger, where to look for shelters, and what routes people should take to reach safety. Scientists use GIS to compare population growth to resources such as drinking water, or to determine a region’s future needs for public services like parking, roads, and electricity. There is no limit to the kind of information that can be analysed using the GIS technology.

Why use GIS?

Every day, millions of decisions are being driven by the use of geographical information system (GIS) because it has the real power to connect what with the where. It discovers how.

In business or making any collective decision, it is imperative to correlate different types of data so as to put right efforts/facilities in the right place. This is what GIS can do for us. It provides us with insights of spatial analysis.

 What can GIS do for you?

GIS is being integrated into almost every sphere of realism. It gives us the power to correlate information based on different aspects.

With the help of GIS, we can precisely analyze geographic and demographic information and can make deft policy decisions. For example, predicting climatic change, impact assessments, disaster management and mitigation, archaeology, agriculture and comparative analysis.

The government bodies also use the geographic information system to understand the real picture of things for robust planning. Like flood plain mapping, traffic route planning, property identification, parcel boundaries, infrastructure assessment and development, population catchment, asset mapping, strategic planning etc.

For the business side of things, it is used to analyze site planning, new store locations, retail market survey, customer survey, consumer profiling and supply chain management. While agriculture maps out soil types, vegetation mapping, identification of geomorphology to understand where erosion will occur due to sea level rise and storm activity, available agriculture land. Media also uses GIS to communicate the stories with maps and target advertising campaigns.

GIS itself is a vast and interesting concept. We can use this technology everywhere, say urban planning, accident analysis, wetland mapping, determining land use, telecom sector, dairy industry, tourism information and fisheries industry.

Every sector can benefit from GIS technique where complex analysis is needed and critical decisions are to be taken. It is very essential that every developing country should use GIS system to manage its planning as GIS provides significant amount of learning and understanding about how things work collectively, and how it will function within the present system.

 The Power of Mapping

A geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyse, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends.

GIS benefits organizations of all sizes and in almost every industry. There is a growing interest in and awareness of the economic and strategic value of GIS. GIS represents in every sense “the power of mapping.”


Brain Albert

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