GIS applications

Jump to: navigation, search

Geographic information systems (GIS) are used in a wide variety of applications in dozens of professional and scientific fields. GIS is a tool for managing geographic information, performing geographic tasks, and answering geographic questions (i.e., information, tasks and questions for which location is relevant), and almost any field that deals with phenomena in the real world has relevant location.

GIS has transformed the way spatial (geographic) data, relationships and patterns in the world are able to be interactively queried, processed, analysed, mapped, modelled, visualised, and displayed for an increasingly large range of users, for a multitude of purposes[1][2]

Types of GIS applications

The geographic tasks and questions for which GIS is commonly employed can generally be grouped into two broad types:

Scientific Research

The goal of scientific research is to discover and explain real-world phenomena, and when these phenomena are geographic (i.e., location is a relevant component), GIS can be a useful tool. These include questions that are traditionally seen as "scientific," such as climate change or geomorphology, as well as practical questions such as "what makes one kind of property more successful for retail business than another?" GIS can be used in various parts of the research process, including observation, hypothesis formation, and hypothesis testing. As part of the process, it is usually used in concert with statistics, often generating summary data to be used in a statistical test.

Resource Management

Resource Management is the practical process of an institution using the resources under its control (e.g., land, capital, labor, equipment, inventory), in the context of resources out of its control (e.g., weather, customers, the Economy), in an attempt to achieve its goals. For example, a retail chain might use its capital to purchase land and construct a new store with a goal of increasing its revenue or market share. When the resources and/or goals are geographic (i.e., location is relevant), GIS is often very useful. During the history of GIS, a number of common analytical procedures have been developed for leveraging principles of geography to solve management tasks, such as Spatial Decision Support Systems, Suitability analysis, Network Analysis, and index models.

Examples of GIS applications

Users of GIS range from indigenous people, communities, research institutions, environmental scientists, health organisations, land use planners, businesses, and government agencies at all levels [2].

The fields in which GIS is currently used are widespread across fields that focus both on natural phenomena and human activity.

Human Activity


Archaeologists were some of the early adopters, users, and developers of GIS and Geographic Information Science.[citation needed]

Increasing numbers of archaeologists have found GIS to be a cost effective, accurate, and fast means of both analysing large volumes of data, and visually displaying the spatial dimensions of people's behaviour within mapped landscapes, through time.[citation needed]

Over a period of 10 years or more, the use of GIS in archaeology has transformed both the way archaeologists acquire and visualise data, plus the way in which archaeologists think about space itself.[citation needed]


See Crime mapping, Law Enforcement GIS


See Historical geographic information system

Indigenous peoples

See Traditional knowledge gis

Urban and Regional Planning

See Public Participation GIS, Geographic Information Systems for Transportation (GIS-T)


See GIS in Business

Emergency Management

See Emergency Management GIS

Natural Phenomena

GIS Application: Hydrology

See GIS and Hydrology

See also

External links


  1. Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis's GIS Timeline displaying the development and grow of GIS from the 1960's to the present day Accessed 13 March 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 Geographical Information and Technology Association web page Accessed 13 March 2008