What is GIS?
A Geographic Information System, more commonly referred to as a GIS, is a collection of computer hardware and software that can capture, store, link, and analyze data, which describes features on the earth’s surface. The data within a GIS is often referred to as layers. There can be many layers of data within a GIS. Examples might include aerial photography, flood zones, taxlots, roads, railroads, points referencing fire hydrant locations, zoning, school district boundaries, etc. There are no limitations to the type of data that can be included in a GIS layer.
The real power of a GIS comes to life when performing spatial queries on the data layers.
An example of a spatial query might include, “How many people live with 5 miles of an interstate highway?” Such questions can be readily answered with a GIS, which uses a coordinate system along with other tabular information about the road and population. In the past it would not have been possible to quickly answer such questions using paper maps and databases.
For more information about how a GIS works click here.