Evolution of GIS

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a revolutionary technology that has transformed our understanding and analysis of the world. By connecting seemingly unrelated data, GIS empowers individuals and organizations to gain insights into spatial patterns and relationships. From single-layered paper maps to multi-dimensional GIS systems, we have come a long way. The study of maps, known as cartography, forms the fundamental basis for GIS. Before the advent of GIS, maps were hand-drawn on paper, providing a visual representation of geographical features.

The first instance of Spatial Analysis

In 1854, when London was hit by Cholera, John Snow, a British physician began mapping the outbreak location and related features on paper maps. He used maps to illustrate how cases of cholera were centered around a water body. John Snow used this map as a tool for spatial analysis and helped to end the epidemic by pointing out that the disease was being spread by contaminated water. This is the first instance of geographic data being used for spatial analysis and problem-solving.


First Computerized GIS

After computers emerged in the 20th century, geographic data shifted to digital formats, improving efficiency through easy creation, editing, and storage. Roger Tomlinson pioneered computerized GIS systems and developed the world’s first operational GIS, the Canada Geographic Information System (CGIS), in 1960. Commissioned by the Canadian government to inventory natural resources, CGIS mapped soils, agriculture, wildlife, forests, and land use. Tomlinson earned the title “father of GIS” for promoting spatial analysis using overlays with convergent geographic data. His groundbreaking work paved the way for the transformative technology that revolutionized understanding and analysis of the world.


First dedicated Software

In the 1970s and 1980s, the first dedicated GIS software emerged, allowing users to analyze and manipulate geographic data. This made spatial analysis more accessible to various industries, including urban planning, environmental management, and other sectors.
One decade later, with the power of the internet, GIS platforms became more popular. The Internet enabled the sharing of geographic data, maps, and applications. This allowed a wider audience to access and interact with spatial information, opening doors for combined projects. Classrooms, businesses, and governments worldwide started harnessing digital mapping and analysis.


QGIS (Quantum GIS) and ArcGIS are two prominent GIS software applications used globally. QGIS is an open-source GIS software. This accessibility has made QGIS a popular choice for researchers, students, and organizations. QGIS’s user-friendly interface and diverse plugin library have made it a valued tool for various GIS tasks.

ArcGIS is proprietary software and offers a comprehensive suite of tools and capabilities. ArcGIS is a powerful choice for professionals working with large-scale projects, government agencies, and industries with extensive geospatial needs.

GIS has marked an innovative journey since its evolution from traditional cartography to smart spatial intelligence. From simple paper maps to real-time data analytics, GIS has revolutionized how we see, understand, and perceive the world around us. GIS will undeniably continue to play a pivotal role in solving complex global challenges and transforming industries in exceptional ways.

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