Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a technology that has transformed the way we understand and analyze the world around us. From a single-layered paper map to multi-dimensional GIS systems, we have come a long way. By relating virtually unrelated data, GIS can help individuals and organizations better understand spatial patterns and relationships. GIS basically answers the ‘where’ component of queries, which has become a crucial factor in the generation of dynamic technology.
GIS technology incorporates cartographic principles and visualization techniques to represent spatial data in form of maps. It’s imperative to note that GIS is not a single software or tool but a concept and technology that can be implemented using various software platforms and applications. The workflow and specific tools may vary depending on the software being used and the application domain. A basic GIS workflow comprises of data acquisition, data management, data modelling and output generation.
Input: Data in GIS is acquired from sources like Satellite Imagery, field surveys, drones, aerial photography, existing databases etc. These spatial data include point coordinates, lines, polygons, and raster images that capture the geometry and characteristics of objects or phenomena on the Earth’s surface, which are tied to specific locations. The location n GIS can be expressed in many ways, such as latitude and longitude, address, or ZIP code.
Data Management: Geospatial data is handled through data management systems, which is a critical technology in GIS for the storage, retrieval, and management of geospatial data. It provides structured storage, indexing, querying, and retrieval capabilities to efficiently handle large volumes of spatial data and feature data.
Data Modelling: GIS consists of several computational techniques that enable the exploration, visualization, and interpretation of spatial patterns and relationships. Geospatial data models provide different ways of representing and organizing spatial data within GIS, each suited for specific types of analysis or applications. GIS platforms support multiple data models, allowing users to work with a combination of vector, raster, and other specialized data models for comprehensive geospatial analysis.
Output: GIS outputs include maps, reports, charts, and other visualizations that communicate the analyzed information. These outputs can be in digital or printed formats, making it easy to share and present the results of the analysis.
GIS has a broad scope, and with evolving technology, it has found its application across virtually every sector. GIS data is becoming an integral source of innovation and driving data analytics for multiple uses.
Here are some key benefits of GIS data:
Visualization: GIS software allows creation of visuals that provide a more engaging and realistic representation of spatial data. GIS enables the layering and overlaying of different datasets, allowing users to combine multiple layers of information in a single map, which helps in visualizing the relationships and interactions between various spatial features.
Communication: GIS significantly improves communication by providing visual representations of spatial data that are accessible, instinctual and easily understood by a wide range of audiences. By combining spatial data, text, images, and multimedia elements, GIS allows creation of interactive and more comprehensible experiences.
Mapping: GIS allows users to create maps that visually represent geospatial data. Maps can be customized to display various attributes such as vector data (points, lines, polygons) and raster data. These maps provide a visual context for analyzing and understanding spatial relationships.
Improved Decision Making: GIS supports decision-making by providing spatially informed insights. It aids in understanding relationships between different geographic features, identifying patterns and trends, and evaluating arrangements. GIS helps users make more informed decisions by considering the spatial context and implications.
Segmentation: GIS allows attribution of spatial features. By using statistical analysis and querying capabilities, GIS can identify patterns and similarities within attribute data and segment similar features together. GIS helps identify patterns and relationships within data, leading to meaningful segments that can be used for targeted business processes. Customer segmentation based on purchasing behavior is one such example.
Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA): GIS provides tools to analyze and visualize the potential environmental impacts of proposed projects or activities. GIS enables the visualization of potential impacts through maps, overlays, and 3D representations, aiding in impact communication and authority engagement.
Cost efficiency: GIS contributes to cost efficiency by centralizing data, optimizing resource allocation, assessing risks, improving project planning, enhancing maintenance practices, supporting decision-making, and facilitating effective communication. By leveraging the power of spatial analysis and visualization, organizations can identify cost-saving opportunities, make informed choices, and optimize their operations.
Competent database: Data management techniques have significantly enhanced GIS capabilities by providing efficient data storage, retrieval, integration, security, concurrency control, scalability, and analysis functionalities. With the right technology, GIS systems can effectively manage and process spatial and attribute data, enabling users to extract valuable insights and make informed decisions based on spatial information.
Collaboration and data sharing: GIS data can be easily shared and accessed by multiple users and organizations. It promotes collaboration, data sharing, and coordination among different stakeholders.
As industries acknowledge the importance of location based information, applications of GIS continue to expand. GIS is highly versatile and has found its place across industries, be it Telecom, Land Management, Navigation, Utility etc., GIS can be implemented for mapping, visualization, design, planning and decision making processes.