Geographic Information Systems


Geographic Information Systems

What is a GIS?

GIS or Geographic Information Systems are powerful computational tools for managing, analysing, and visualising spatial data and associated attributes. They enable users to examine and process information related to geographical locations, providing a platform for deeper insights into patterns, relationships, and trends.

The key term here is ‘geographical’, which implies that the data (or at least a portion of the data) is spatial. In other words, data that is in some way referenced to locations on the earth. Essentially, a GIS allows for a much more complex analysis than what we typically perceive from a static map.

Data association

How it works

The power of GIS comes from its ability to associate data with a physical location and then layer that data in ways that make it easier to understand the connections and relationships between different types of information. In a GIS, geographical data is often categorised into two types:

These two types of data work together in a GIS to provide detailed information about a location, allowing users to perform in-depth analysis, visualise trends, and make informed decisions.

Unique visualisation

Link between GIS and geospatial data

Geospatial data, also known as geographical data, is any information related to a location, an area, or an object that is associated with a position on the Earth’s surface. This could be anything from the exact coordinates of a particular building to the boundaries of a city, to the route of a hiking trail, to the population distribution across a country.

GIS is intrinsically linked to geographical data as it is designed to store, retrieve, manage, display, and analyse all types of spatial or geographic data. It allows you to link on-the-ground situations to a digital database and visualise scenarios for better decision-making. It integrates common database operations, such as query and statistical analysis, with the unique visualisation and geographic analysis benefits offered by maps.

Guidance & Support


Cross-sectoral applications


GIS technology has a vast range of applications across numerous sectors:

Guidance & Support


The importance of GIS lies in its ability to transform raw data into valuable insights. By linking data to a physical location and layering different datasets, it allows for advanced analysis and decision-making. This can help drive efficiencies, support planning, improve transparency, and even save lives.

Moreover, GIS is also crucial for its ability to present complex data in an understandable and visually appealing format. Maps created by GIS systems are a powerful communication tool that can be understood by a wide audience.

Limitless possibilities

What can you do with GIS?

The possibilities are virtually limitless:

Visualise data
Create maps to better understand patterns and relationships between different spatial data.
Analyse geographic data
Perform complex spatial analyses, such as overlaying data layers, determining proximity, calculating areas, and more.
Manage data
Store and organise vast amounts of geographic data in a systematic and accessible way.
Predict trends
Use past data to predict future trends or patterns, such as the potential spread of a wildfire or the growth of urban areas.
Make informed decisions
Use the insights gained from GIS analysis to make informed decisions in a wide range of fields.
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Geospatial data manipulation

In conclusion

A Geographic Information System (GIS) and geospatial (or geographical) data are inseparably linked. The GIS acts as a tool that manipulates geospatial data to create digital maps, perform spatial analysis, and provide insights that help in decision-making. Given the vast application, a solid understanding of the system is vital in numerous fields, from urban planning to environmental science and beyond.

GIS is a powerful, multifaceted tool that plays a vital role in our understanding of the world around us. As our societies become more complex and data-driven, its importance and potential only continues to grow.