Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
In layman’s term, a geographic information system is a system that allows any person or an organization to analyze, store and visualize data related to geographical location. This data can be anything, for example, longitude or latitude, spreadsheets containing address data points, satellite imageries and information related to any admin boundary distributions. This data is known as spatial data and databases used to store these kinds of data is called a geospatial database. GIS is not just limited to the study of spatial data but it also comprises of development, data analysis, editing data in maps and even practicing operations – logistics management associated with it.
How does GIS work?
- Data Collection: Site Engineers and Fieldworkers collect the data using various high sensor cameras and measurements.
- Strategic Planning: Collected data can be of two type raster images and vector data points such as coordinates. Team of GIS managers and analysts sit together to plan on the deliverables.
- Data Analysis: GIS analysts, GIS developers and Technicians work together along with the architects to deal with the analysis and the analytics part of the work.
- Data Visualizations: GIS Technicians and Analysts with the help of BI consultants work on the byproduct of the visualizations post-processing and analysis of spatial data.
- Data Rollout: The final product is then rolled out to the end consumers and strategic partner/costumers with recent updated mapping and navigation Info. Consumers also have the option to report back to the work with various feedbacks and comments.
Features of GIS
A working Geographic Information Systems comprises of 5 crucial components. They are as follows:
People, Data, Hardware, Software/Applications, and Methods.
The above Infographic is added to showcase the general components of GIS in an interactive image format.
This is one of the important factors in Geographic Information Systems. GIS technology will be handicapped without this component. It ranges right from the people who work on complex geospatial databases to the consumers who use maps daily.
The most useful and important component in setting up any GIS is collecting and managing accurate spatial data. Primarily it is classified into vector and raster data. Vector data is all about coordinates and shapes. However, raster data is all about satellite imagery sources. Organizations and institutions also use cloud and Database Management Systems to manage geospatial data.
To setup Geographic Information Systems, Hardware is also crucial to managing a large amount of geospatial data and complex software. It can be standalone, virtual or network-driven depending on the volume of data.
The hardware complements the software part of the system. The software comprises of query building and handling tools, Database Management Systems to store the geospatial data, Input and edit tool to manipulate geospatial data and Graphical User Interface for easy access of the geospatial data from frontend. ESRI is a giant that has ArcGIS to its name. Some organizations also have their proprietary software. Open-source software like QGIS is well known among students and beginners in the field of GIS.
5. Processes and Methods
Geographic Information Systems need proper planning and approach. It’s not an overnight task to build a good system. Surely there are many set processes and methods which organizations need to follow. Organizations like HERE MAPS use the LEAN and kaizen method to keep the data quality and system at top-notch.
Applications of Geographic Information Systems
Advantages and Disadvantages of GIS
Below are the advantages and disadvantages of GIS:
|It can process multiple data formats and data sets. For example, Satellite images, vector data points like coordinates, latitude, and longitude, drive files from drones and high sensors cameras.||GIS often requires trained candidates from the field of Geology, bioinformatics or Information technology. Non – GIS person will end up ruining the setup completely.|
|GIS can be integrated with various hardware and software to create a robust environment.||GIS is incomplete without the available meaningful spatial datasets and databases.|
|This system has the potential to analyze past data sets and also analytics on future predictions based on the trends.||People and organizations complain about GIS being very expensive for implementing and integrating.|
|It is used for natural resource management by analyzing, managing and monitoring natural hazards.||It requires a large amount of data to be inputted in the system and hence, there are more chances of errors.|
|GIS is highly efficient when it comes to data collection, processing, and visualization.||Most of the time organizations fail to implement fully functioning GIS.|
|It allows easy record keeping of geographical changes for further analysis.||Data privacy and integrity is an important asset of GIS. It has more risks when comes to privacy violation.|
Career Growth in GIS
- Working in the field of GIS is more than data analysis and operating GUI based software. GIS nowadays is evolving more than what was defined in textbooks and universities.
- The job roles in this domain are becoming more advanced with the amalgamation of data analysis, programming, backend technologies and even knowledge of geography. With data science and Machine learning /AI booming the market, the organizations are also integrating ML / AI-based models in the systems to improve prediction and accuracy. There are many universities which are offering Geo-Informatics and GIS as the main elective in their programs.
- Product-based companies like HERE Maps, Bing Maps, Google Maps, Apple Maps, TomTom, and ESRI are coming out with many job roles and responsibilities for upcoming graduates. There are service-based companies like Capgemini Technologies and Willis Tower Watson using GIS for cartographic models for identifying potential risks.
- Roles are like GIS technician, GIS Analyst, GIS spatial analyst, GIS data specialist, GIS developers, and Architects. GIS Technicians work on the GUI based GIS software to build maps. GIS Analyst and Spatial data analyst work on the spatial data that is available and extracted through various sources.
- GIS developers and architects work together with database engineers to build a robust GIS. GIS Architects is the one who creates the whole architecture and this whole project or program is orchestrated by a GIS Project or a Program manager.
- Companies like HERE are working on automobile navigation and advanced driving assistance systems. The organization is itself funded by a famous consortium of Daimler, BMW and Audi.
- They are also integrating various maps to drone companies like DJI.
- Apple and Google mostly work on the lower consumer crowd for desktop, phone and tablet experiences. TomTom is always a frontier in the field of GPS devices. They have various navigation devices to their name.
The power of this system is always underestimated by many organizations and people. They think it’s an expensive setup with less ROI. However, companies and people who have mastered this domain are thriving in the market with an abundance of success. Companies like HERE Maps, Tele Atlas, Apple, Bing Maps and TomTom are fighting against the tech giants like ESRI and Google. GIS always will have immense investment but the organization investing in this will reap the benefits if things are planned with the proper approach.
This is a guide to What is GIS?. Here we discuss the different features, working, applications of Geographic Information Systems along with advantages and disadvantages. You can also go through our suggested articles to learn more –