Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing items that exist and events that happen on earth. GIS technology integrates common database operations such as query and statistical analysis with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by maps. These abilities distinguish GIS from other information systems and make it valuable to a wide range of public and private enterprises for explaining events, predicting outcomes, and planning strategies.

Whether siting a new business, finding the best soil for growing cotton, or figuring out the best route for an emergency vehicle, local problems also have a geographical component. GIS will give you the power to create maps, integrate information, visualize scenarios, solve complicated problems, present powerful ideas, and develop effective solutions like never before. GIS is a tool used by individuals and organizations, schools, governments, and businesses seeking innovative ways to solve their problems.

Mapmaking and geographic analysis are not new, but a GIS performs these tasks better and faster than do the traditional manual methods. And, before GIS technology, only a few people had the skills necessary to use geographic information to help with decision making and problem solving.

Once you have a functioning GIS containing your geographic information, you can begin to ask simple questions such as

-Who owns the land parcel on the corner?
-How far is it between two places?
-Where is land zoned for industrial use?

And analytical questions such as

-Where are all the sites suitable for building new houses?
-What is the dominant soil type for a proposed development?
-If I build a new subdivision street here, how will traffic be affected?

GIS provides both simple point-and-click query capabilities and sophisticated analysis tools to provide timely information to managers and analysts alike. GIS technology really comes into its own when used to analyze geographic data to look for patterns and trends and to undertake "what if" scenarios. Modern GISs have many powerful analytical tools that can address your needs.