Difference between GIS and GPS


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are the two most essential tools in today’s world, where location-based services have become an indispensable part of various industries as well as everyday life. GIS is a computer-based system used for capturing, storing, analyzing, and visualizing geospatial data, whereas GPS is a satellite-based navigation system that uses satellites that orbit the Earth to send information to GPS receivers that are on the ground. GPS information helps determine the location of objects or people.  GPS is used to collect data, which is later processed by GIS software. GIS tools can analyze and process GPS-derived data, identifying patterns and trends that would be challenging to distinguish from raw GPS coordinates alone.


GPS technology was created by the US Department of Defense, as a space-based global navigation satellite system. As mentioned above, GPS comprises a network of satellites orbiting the Earth that transmit precise timing and location information to GPS receivers on the ground. These receivers process signals from multiple satellites to calculate their exact position in latitude, longitude, and elevation. A GPS receiver calculates its position by timing the signals sent by GPS satellites high above the Earth.

GIS digitizes ortho-rectified images acquired from satellites, aircraft, aerial vehicles, and other such sources. This involves extracting geographic data directly from these images, to create spatial data. This data is added in the form of layers, which refer to individual datasets or information that are well-organized and set on top of each other to create a map or spatial representation.


The efficient mapping and visualization ability of GIS facilitates decision-making processes in industries like Urban Development, Telecom, Utility, Mining, Land Information Management, and many other fields for planning, data management, classification, and other operational purposes.

GPS is widely used in navigation, mapping, and location-based services. It is commonly found in smartphones, car navigation systems, fitness trackers, and countless other devices that provide location-based services.


Data Model

GIS and GPS have distinct data models. GPS data models consists of three main components. The latitude, longitude, and altitude information in GPS is referred to as Geolocation. GPS receivers also record the time when location data was obtained, and this is referred to as Timestamp. Some GPS satellites can also provide velocity information.
The data model of GIS is much more complex than GPS and includes varied data for spatial relationships between different features. GIS can handle a wide range of geospatial data, such as vector data (points, lines, polygons), raster data (maps, satellite imagery, elevation models), and their topology and attributes.
Though different in nature, these technologies enhance each other, creating a powerful system that drives innovation across industries. Understanding the differences and combined effect between GIS and GPS is key to leveraging their full potential and advancing the competencies of location-based solutions in the future.
AABSyS has over two decades of expertise in managing the data lifecycle, from geospatial data capture, conversion, and processing to integration, maintenance, and update. Visit Data Services to learn more about our GIS services and applications.