What is a GIS and how does it work? Applications of GIS

So today let’s talk about a very unique and interesting field of study called GIS. Well most people draw a blank when the name “GIS” or “GEOINGORMATICS” or Geographic Information System comes up. But faces light up with interest when we talk about Google Maps or GPS enabled cabs (like Ola, Uber,etc).

Basically GIS connects DATA & GEOGRAPHY.Do you remember doing map-pointing in school days? That was a task..phew! It’s REALLY hard to visualise the exact locations of latitudes and longitudes coordinates given to you on a spreadsheet or a paper. But as soon as you add these positions on a map, it’s like magic to the reader. I think you’ll agree. Everyone knows that maps make geographic information easier to understand. You understand what belongs where. Because you don’t fully understand your data until you see how it is related to other things.

Long story short, GIS really comes down to just 4 simple ideas :
GIS is a technology, a system that Creates geographic data, Manages it, and Analyzes it and… Displays it on a map.

It needs 4 things:
  • HARDWARE - your computer
  • SOFTWARE – the OS of your computer and other GIS software like ArcGIS, QGIS, etc. help in such tasks.
  • DATA - spatial (location data- latitude and longitude) and attribute (tabular data format) data.
  • PEOPLE – we who will work on it.

But you might be wondering: Why use GIS? Is it necessary?

GIS is a shift that has brought into scenario the commencement of digital maps and out-dating of paper maps. All the data are now stored in the computer system where mapping is performed. And why do we need that? Ok here’s a situation: there are 10 maps depicting soil profile, agriculture distribution, rainfall, forest, transport systems etc. and we need to overlap few of them to draw a connection.
 Remember the movie “JOURNEY TO THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND”? There Dwayne Johnson (Hank) keeps 3 maps (drawn on tracing paper) on top of each other under the light to form a connection of a place. So now if we want to do the same with 10 maps won’t we get confused? Yes we will. Here GIS plays a role. It can add or subtract thousands of map layers with whatever combination the user wants to: you can combine soil with agriculture layer, transport with settlement layer, etc.

In a nutshell benefits of GIS are:
  • Better decision making
  • Improved communications
  • Cost Savings from Greater Efficiency
  • Better record keeping

APPLICATIONS of GIS

Round table conference problems of our planet are best understood spatially – climate change, natural disasters, population dynamics and myriad others. How much forest is in a city boundary? How many endangered species are within 1 mile proximity of a proposed mine? How do you solve such problems in a GIS? The answer is through spatial analysis. Spatial analysis gives an insight to comprehending relationships between spatial and attribute data. So from pinpointing new store locations, to predicting climate change, to reporting power outages, to crime mapping, to waste management, GIS can solve anything and everything because geographic problems require spatial thinking.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A CAREER IN GIS?

If you thought a career in GIS meant only making maps, you’d be wrong.From planning a pipeline, navigating ships… to fighting wild forest fires… Spatial problems require spatial thinking. This is why GIS has expanded into countless disciplines.Tech-savvy employers expect the complete package of GIS skills. From remote sensing, programming surveying, database management to web development… The most successful GIS professionals build their careers with multiple skill sets.

Read More
Environmental effects of Global Warming
Social Impact of Global Warming and climate change
What is causing global warming?
Types of Greenhouse Gases and where they come from


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