The Basics of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) For Business People

What is a Geographical Information System (GIS)?

The basics of GIS incorporate an understanding and present usable visualizations on geographical maps. The components of the system include dashboards, data insights and mapped views of information that can be critical and essential to operating your business.

Ask a lot of people “what is GIS?” and get a lot of different explanations. One reason is because GIS can be such a vast technological landscape. There are lists out there of thousands of application use cases for GIS systems in nearly every kind of business and endeavor in the world.

Given it’s giant scope in general, the definitions of a GIS have evolved into sub specialities such as logistics, navigation, competitive analysis and land management for example. GIS is applicable in so many different areas, ways and disciplines. What all GIS definitions have in common is the recognition that spatial data is linked to maps and these represent an easy way to see information that is location dependant.

At its most basic definition, a GIS at least consists of a database full of variable inputs, visual geographic map information, and a computer-based link between them.

What is GIS used for?

GIS has many real world applications. A GIS is used to develop and store geographic and attribute data then present that data in a useful and meaningful way.

Geographic analysis observes spatial distribution of land, people and resources and attempts to explain and predict future results on some targeted criteria. While the GIS system helps define and describe locations or populations, it is not just useful to describe but also to help make informed and predictive decisions.

You can alter scenarios and simulate results, using criteria matching by querying different geographic data sets to answer questions.

For example, Imagine placing your next shoe store, and while researching competition, being able to find all shoe stores located at least 1000′ from a highway, within 200′ of a bus stop, and within 1 mile of a jogging park with just a few clicks in your purpose built GIS application.

Explore relationships among data layers for selected regions

The case of John Snow’s malaria map, where historic physician John Snow is cited with tracking and mapping malaria outbreaks to pinpoint their causes and discovering how malaria is transmitted, is cited as the classic example of mapping out geographic data in order to understand the relationships within it. In this case, those of a contaminated water pump and the epicenter and subsequent spread of disease.

When viewed on a map, the malaria patients painted a picture of a circle around the target infected well. In this way, modern GIS aids visualization of information, which in turn improves understanding in how to next take action, and the visual interpretations of the information help coordinate group decision making efforts.

Lead the way with a GIS system in your business or research

Almost all human activities are tracked now in some way. Debit and credit cards, Uber rides, and Google searches. Most businesses collect a lot of location based information and often don’t realize the value in those bits and bytes till they are exposed via a great GIS tool that is solving a location based requirement.

In addition to that, a tremendous number of public or commercially sold data sources exist and can almost always be tied to location and location intelligence and viewed on maps, heat maps or motion based maps in meaningful ways. Just as natural phenomena are spatially distributed and therefore can be studied within a GIS, so can shoppers, traffic and competitors.

The possibilities are nearly endless, and the rewards can be vast with a good GIS tool set at your fingertips.

Let’s have a conversation

We would love to learn about your business goals and hurdles and share some insights and pointers we’ve learned along the way about GIS options, tools and best practices. Let us show you some of the ways we’ve helped other companies get where they want to go, and chat about what we can achieve together for your company, with no obligation required.

CyberSWIFT, LLC Copyright 2019

Specializing in providing world class, highly skilled, experienced and award winning dedicated teams and resources with a focus on GIS and Map based application solutions, as well as enterprise software development and mobile application solutions

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