Thursday, November 3, 2011

GIS-Geographic Information Systems

Do you ever wonder how maps, globes, reports are made or even how the meteorologist can predict what the weather is going to be in the future? Well they do not just guess, they use computers and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). A geographic information system combines “hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.” GIS are important and helpful because they let people to understand, question, view, interpret and visualize information in various ways that can later show patterns, trends or relationships in the form of charts, globes, maps, and reports.

A GIS uses computers and software to explore the fundamental principle of geography-that location is important to people’s lives. GIS is used to inventory, analyze, and manage many aspects of the world. GIS helps with coordinating electricity to houses, road signs on highways, and many of the maps online. GIS is incorporated with our everyday lives, but we are so accustomed to it that we do not even realize it.

People use maps for not only directional purposes, but also for examining other features. Many people are using GIS because it had added and shown real business value, or in other words, it has shown a real return on investment. Popular users of GIS are businesses, government, education and sciences, environmental management and conservation, natural resources, and utilities. Each of these companies or entities are using GIS for tactical and analytical purposes. What makes GIS a great resource is that each entity can specialize and create or develop their own type of GIS in which they incorporate the details or features that they feel will be most helpful to themselves or their customers. An example of someone who would use a GIS on a regular basis is a meteorologist. A meteorologist uses a GIS is to map out weather conditions and try to make patterns. When mapping out weather conditions, you may decide to map hurricane patterns. The benefit for mapping hurricane conditions is not only for the meteorologist, but also for the many citizens and residents to the areas that are highly affected. Using a GIS helps to develop and make patterns of past behavior and more importantly, predict where and when they might occur in the future.

A major company that uses GIS is Google Earth. Many people use Google Earth to look at different places around the world and see different trends tracked around the globe. But now Google Earth has added a new feature in which their customers can import their GIS data into Google Earth and can then use it as a part of their own visualizations. It was a very smart move for Google Earth to incorporate the personal aspect of importing personal geographic information systems data because that is going to draw more people to use their services and the website. By incorporating your own GIS with Google Earth, it helps individuals answer questions and solve problems by looking at their your own data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared with others.

I truly think that using geographic information systems in businesses and for the government is extremely smart and useful because it is easy to understand and use. Many people can refer to a company’s website and select the features that they want to look into and are presented their information in a clear and understandable way. Not to mention that presenting data or information in the form of a map is a much faster way of presenting information. Users want information and they want it fast. The fastest way to give information is by presenting it in a map, chart, or another visual model. GIS has helped many companies save time and money.

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