The Constructor

What is the Global Information System (GIS)?



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GIS is a computer-based information system that performs the activities of capturing, storing, manipulating, analyzing and displaying both spatial and non-spatial data in order to solve complex research, planning and management problems. It is a system of hardware and software that performs the above-mentioned activities on the information about the areas of the earth.

Purpose of the Global Information System (GIS)

The four main purposes of GIS modern survey is:

  1. Support for General Research
  2. Collection, manipulation, and utilization of spatial data in database management
  3. Standardization and Customisation of cartographic production
  4. Supports the decision-making process based on spatial data.

The fourth purpose can be explained by an example, where the engineering geologist evaluates the slope stability conditions of the area through GIS in order to decide a new and best route.

Subsystems of GIS

The three main elements of a Global Information System (GIS) are:

  1. Computer Hardware
  2. Computer Software
  3. Data
  4. People
  5. Methods

1. Hardware

The GIS operation and GIS software run in a Hardware system which includes the computer. The computer hence forms the backbone of the GIS hardware. Other than the computer, it includes input and output devices.

The input devices are scanners and the digitizer boards. The output devices are the printers and the plotters for a GIS hardware setup.


The GIS software provides the functions and the tools to:

The basic and important software components of a GIS are:

3. Data

The most important component of a GIS system is Data. There are two types of data:

Spatial Data: The data objects and elements that are present in the geographical space forms the spatial data. This data enables the global finding and location of the individuals or devices anywhere on the earth. The spatial data is also called as geographic data or geospatial data.

Attribute Data: These are information that is appended in the tabular form mentioned with respect to spatial features. All the characteristics of the spatial data are provided by the attribute data.

4. People

Mainly two classes of people are employed in a GIS operation. They are:

  1. GIS Operator
  2. GIS Engineer

The GIS operator works to vectorize the map objects. The GIS engineer or GIS user use this vectorized data to perform the queries and analysis to solve problems.

5. Methods

A well-designed plan and business rules are the keys to successful GIS Operations. The methods are the models and the operating practices that are unique to each organization.

The GIS is supposed to have 5 major component subsystems. They are:

  1. Input
  2. Management
  3. Processing
  4. Display
  5. Output

1. Input

An input system deals with creating an image-based GIS from the datasets.

2. Management

This system serves the purpose of storing, retrieving and managing the database efficiently.

3. Processing

This stage involves data manipulation, feature enhancement, and classification, etc.

4. Display

Involves the display and the generation of the product.

5. Output

This provides the thematic maps, images, etc for the application.

Fig.1. Component Subsystems of GIS

Applications of GIS

The important applications of GIS are:

  1. Extensively used in Business, government, and research which performs environmental analysis, land use planning, tax appraisal, utility, location analysis, utility, and infrastructure planning.
  2. GIS is used for real estate analysis, marketing, and demographic analysis
  3. Wide application in habitat and archaeological analysis.
  4. Applied in Remote sensing, surveying, geodesy, civil engineering, artificial intelligence, operation research.
  5. Employed in Natural resource management for locating the underground pipes and cables, planning facility maintenance, tracking energy use and balancing the loads in electrical networks.
  6. Modern GIS applications include address matching, location analysis or site selection and development of evacuation plans.

Also Read: Remote Sensing- Components, Types, Applications, and Advantages

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