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What is a Geographic Information System (GIS)?

A GIS is a computer application for mapping and analyzing geographic data. GIS combines many different types of data through a "layering" technique.

Various types of maps

Layered data can then be analyzed using special GIS software to create new layers of data.

Layered data

For example, data can be studied through spatial analysis. GIS can help validate theories and explore trends and patterns. Using emissions, plant monitoring locations, and demographic/health data, a user could buffer all plant locations by specified distances to examine how emissions relate to health in surrounding populations.

How Does GIS Work?

GIS combines database functions with computer mapping to provide a sophisticated data storage and analysis tool.

Model GIS screens

GIS integrates 4 key components:

GIS components:  People, Hardware, Software, Geographic Data

These components work together to promote better understanding of data relationships and trends, and ultimately promote improved decision-making.

Results of using GIS:  Better understanding of data relationships and trends and Improved decision-making


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