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What is GIS?

September, 2021

A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system used for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface. Does this sound over-complicated? To put it simply, GIS is the intersection of location and data. There are so many examples of GIS use in everyday life, whether we are referring to a street, building or landscape, this type of data can be easily shown in a map in various layers. By linking apparently unrelated data, GIS can help individuals and organizations better understand spatial patterns and relationships.

How is GIS used?

There are many types of information that can be analyzed using GIS. The system can include data about people, such as density, income, or education level. It can include information about the landscape, such as the location of streams, types of vegetation and soil. It can also include details about the sites of factories, farms, and schools, or storm drains, roads, and electric power lines. Using GIS people can correlate different locations, for example a factory which causes pollution and sites that are directly impacted, such as rivers and wetlands. Such an analysis can help people see which water supplies will be directly impacted and assess the risk.

How does GIS work?

Let's take a street map, for example. It has a name, location and all street intersections in that area. Then we have the buildings on every side of the street, both homes and office buildings. Furthermore, we need to add underground utilities like sewer pipes and gas under the buildings and the power cables above. If you also add the trees and vegetation, the simple map at the beginning becomes unreadable.

All information we have added on this map is location-based data. In the past, standard maps could only display 1 or 2 datasets before becoming ineffective. With the use of GIS, multiple datasets can be displayed on a map in separate layers and then analyzed based on the spatial relations.

GIS applications include both hardware and software systems. These applications can include cartographic, photographic and digital data, or data in spreadsheets. Cartographic data exist already in map form, and can include information such as the location of rivers, roads, hills, and valleys, but can also include survey data and mapping information that can be directly entered into a GIS. Photographic interpretation is a major part of GIS and it involves analyzing aerial photographs and assessing the features that appear such as computer data collected by satellites that show land use—the location of farms, towns, and forests. Remote sensing provides another tool that can be integrated into a GIS. Remote sensing includes images and other data collected from satellites, balloons, and drones.

Last, but not least, GIS can include data in tables or spreadsheets that relate to population demographics: from age, income, and ethnicity to recent purchases and internet browsing preferences.

GIS technology allows all these different types of information, no matter their source or original format, to be overlaid on top of one another on a single map and uses location as the key index variable to relate these apparently unrelated data.

GIS and its uses

Geographic Information Systems are powerful decision-making tools for any business or industry since it allows the analysis of environmental, demographic, and topographic data. Data intelligence compiled from GIS applications help companies and various industries, and consumers, make informed decisions.

Our mission here at Quarticle is to help companies maximize value from their existing data and offer them the right tools to process it. Our Qarta engine is a cloud-native Platform-as-a-Service (Paas), that manages geoinformation by scaling, transforming and optimizing it in a fast and flexible way. Qarta can handle more than 800k requests per second, whereas established GIS vendors can reach only 10% or less, worst fail or even crash. Graph is a Software as a Service (SaaS) webGIS application using the latest web technologies, responsive and versatile interface designed for the purpose of delivering geoinformation intuitively, fast, flexible and secure. It can be used to create, use, modify and share maps and overlay them on satellite images and thus solve real world problems.