What is GIS?

Most of the information that we use nowadays is georeferenced. That is, it is information to which a geographical position can be assigned, and it is thus information that has some ancillary information related to its location.

A Geographical Information System (GIS) is a tool to work with georeferenced information. In particular a GIS is a system that allows the following operations:

GIS is a step beyond traditional maps. A map represents a rendering of a set of spatial data, and while this rendering has great importance within GIS, it is but one of its many components. GIS includes not only data and their rendering, but also all the operations that can be performed on them which are part of the system, also.

GIS is a flexible and versatile tool and most disciplines today use GIS in one way or another. One of the main reasons for this is the integrative nature of GIS. The following are some of the main contexts in which GIS plays this integrative role.

Therefore, we see that GIS integrates technology, informatics, people and geographical information, of which the main purpose is to capture, analyze, store, edit and visualize georeferenced data.

From a different point of view, a GIS can be considered as composed of five main elements:

In the following chapters, we will describe these elements in detail.

Chapter contents
Book contents

Book contents