A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth's surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships. With GIS technology, people can compare the locations of different things in order to discover how they relate to each other. For example, using GIS, the same map could include sites that produce pollution, such as gas stations, and sites that are sensitive to pollution, such as wetlands. Such a map would help people determine which wetlands are most at risk. GIS can use any information that includes location. The location can be expressed in many different ways, such as latitude and longitude, address, or ZIP code. Many different types of information can be compared and contrasted using GIS. The system can include data about people, such as population, income, or education level. It can include information about the land, such as the location of streams, different kinds of vegetation, and different kinds of soil. It can include information about the sites of factories, farms, and schools, or storm drains, roads, and electric power lines.


The advantages of using a geographic information system include:


Using GIS allows people to see the world in a different way by mapping the position and quantity of things, mapping the density of people and objects and mapping any changes that occur. GIS also allows us to find out what is happening inside a specific area or nearby to a specific area. More specifically, GIS is used through:


There are many different ways to learn GIS. The most structured is through an educational institute such as a local college or university or online via distance learning. Those institutions provide a specific set of classes to teach students about the principles of GIS, cartography, database management, and spatial analysis. After students have successfully completed the coursework, either a certificate or a degree is awarded. These types of programs are most beneficial to students first learning about GIS or are lacking a higher education degree. For those students who already have a good baseline knowledge of GIS and are looking to supplement their background, individual courses are a more appropriate avenue There are different forums for learning GIS, depending on your educational objectives. Traditional academic programs provide a GIS education that results in either a degree (bachelors or masters) or a certificate. The GIS curriculums page provides pointers to resources to search worldwide for universities and other institutes of learning for coursework and certificate programs in GIS. These online databases allow users to search by geography, software type or courses offered. Unsure of how to pick a place to learn GIS?