In advance of our first ArcGIS workshop of the semester, I thought I’d share some information about geographic information systems: what they are and how they are used.
This video from ESRI, the company behind the ArcGIS suite of software, provides a great introduction.
From the video:
GIS stands for geographic information system. Using computer hardware, software, and a ton of raw data, we can explore the fundamental principle of geography: that location is important in people’s lives. Using GIS, we can view, understand, question, visualize, and interpret data in visual ways that reveal and relationships and patterns which allows us to make better decisions. For example, a meteorologist might study the paths of hurricanes to predict where and when they might occur in the future. A city planner can choose the best location for a new park or hospital, ensuring that they are built in the place where they are needed the most. GIS is essential to understanding what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen in geographic space. Geographic understanding brings wisdom, and with wisdom we can make better decisions to create a brighter future.
While geographic information systems are the tools of choice for geographers, geographic information technologies have applications in many disciplines. Tools used by geographers to map the earth’s surface can be used by biologists to track migration patterns, social scientists to identify food deserts, epidemiologists to monitor the spread of disease, and humanists to create literary and historical maps.
Follow the links below to read more about the uses of GIS software in various industries, and view this story map to see where GIS technology is being used around the world.