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Landsat image of the area around Denali National Park.

What is GIS?

Example GIS Map2.jpg

GIS is an "acronym for geographic information system. An integrated collection of computer software and data used to view and manage information about geographic places, analyze spatial relationships, and model spatial processes. A GIS provides a framework for gathering and organizing spatial data and related information so that it can be displayed and analyzed." [1]

Geographic Approach
Spatial analysis

What is the history of GIS?

An historic map of the Katmai National Park from the 1930s.

The history of GIS is closely tied to the history of geography, cartography, and computer science.

Roger Tomlinson - "The Father of GIS"
Jack Dangermond
History of cartography
List of cartographers
Geography (Ptolemy)
Spherical Earth

How does GIS work?

Point, line, polygon, and annotation feature classes.

The following links describe some of the key concepts in the field of GIS.

Map projection
Datum (geodesy)
Map Layers
Simple Features
Point Feature Class
Line Feature Class
Polygon Feature Class
Annotation feature class

How is GIS used?

The value of GIS is recognized across a broad range of industries and disciplines. The ability to collect, organize, analyze, and represent data helps organizations do everything from modeling animal migrations and mapping the spread of diseases to analyzing demographic information for commercial development and creating new political districts.

Environmental geography
Physical geography
Health geography
Cultural geography
Transportation geography
Economic geography
Emergency Management Information System
United States Geological Survey
GIS in archaeology
Great Britain Historical GIS
Financial GIS

Who uses GIS?

Researchers install weather and GPS instruments on an iceberg in Antartica.

Get involved in the GIS community; the love for geography is universal!

List of ArcGIS User Groups
Geographic Information Systems Certification Institute
British Cartographic Society
Open Geospatial Consortium
List of GIS-related Blogs

How can I get started?



  1. "GIS Glossary - GIS". Retrieved 2011-04-15.