UTS Library

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

In this guide:

Guide by David Litting - david.litting@uts.edu.au

GIS is a computer system that captures, stores and displays data relating to positions on the Earth’s surface. GIS can show and overlay different kinds of data on one map, which allows the user to more easily see, analyse and understand patterns and relationships. 









For example, using GIS, the same map could include sites that produce pollution, and sites that are sensitive to pollution, such as wetlands. This could help to determine which wetlands are most at risk. GIS can also be used to track changes over time, such as how much of the polar regions are covered in ice.

GIS can use any information that includes location. The location can be expressed in many different ways, such as latitude and longitude, address, or postcode. Map and tabular information can also be entered into GIS. File types that are compatible with GIS include .geotiffs, .lyr, .gbd, .ecws, .shp, .kml and more.

Putting information into GIS is called data capture. Data already in digital form, such as images taken by satellites and most tables, can simply be uploaded into GIS. Maps must be scanned, or converted into digital information. Once all of the desired data have been entered into a GIS system, they can be combined to produce a wide variety of individual maps, depending on which data layers are included. Any GIS data layer can be added or subtracted to the same map.

GIS technology can also allow users to point to a spot on a map to find other information stored in the GIS about that location. For example, a user might click on a school to find how many students are enrolled, how many students there are per teacher, or what sports facilities the school has.

Text largely sourced from National Geographic website: http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/geographic-information-system-gis/