Geographic Information Systems

What is GIS?

GIS is an acronym for geographic information system. Loosely defined, GIS could be explained as “computerized mapping.”

In a more technical sense, GIS is “an integrated collection of software and data used to view and manage information about geographic places, analyze geographic relationships, and model geographic processes. A GIS provides a framework for gathering and organizing geographic data and related information so that it can be displayed and analyzed.” Source - Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI)

The Fundamentals of GIS

GIS is more than making maps. It links information to location and provides a powerful tool to visualize the relationship between layers of geographic information.


A layer is each piece of information represented on a map. The ability to “stack” or display layers on top of each other is one of the fundamental concepts of GIS GIS can be used to answer geographic-based questions such as “how many features are located within?” “How close is one feature to another?” “What is the closest feature to my location?” and “What is the quickest way to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’?”

Image displaying the separate layers put into a GIS map.