Geographic information system (GIS) software manages, stores and analyzes geographical data. As GIS software is a valuable tool for geospatial analysis, it is frequently used by architects, designers and town planners to produce vivid visualizations and pinpoint geographic locations. Some of the most widely used GIS programs include Google Earth Pro, Global Mapper and Maptitude.
What is GIS Software?
GIS software serves various functions. It can be used to analyze data sets and find patterns, plan land usage projects and forecast population growth. Users can convert data, such as geographic coordinates, onto a range of maps — a process called geocoding. Other uses of GIS include resource management, infrastructure development and archaeological investigations.
These programs collect data from various sources, ensuring users have access to the latest geographic information in real time. Some tools utilize public maps, census and demographic data, and meteorological reports. Other programs store information in the cloud, allowing users to access projects remotely.
The Benefits of GIS Software
GIS software lets users create custom maps that show demographic or geographic trends. These programs come with pre-installed graphic display techniques that highlight geographic features such as contour lines and digital elevations. Users can also compare datasets across multiple maps. The software can, for example, illustrate landscape changes that have resulted from environmental damage over a period of time.
GIS informs the decision-making process in various industries. A local government might use GIS to plan for an impending natural disaster or find the best location for a real estate investment. Scientists might use these programs to monitor geo-economic and societal trends, such as changes in income and education levels, in specific areas.
Some GIS software integrates with computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM) software, allowing users to plan and design construction and infrastructure projects.
What Users Say
“As a research analyst focusing on transportation, the main problems I face include poor data accuracy and filling in the unknowns,” says a user who reviewed QGIS, a type of GIS platform. “QGIS has helped greatly with not only being able to aid in the creation of deliverable-level reports, but it has taken steps in avoiding a complete ‘black box’ approach. It has also helped me better understand the internal processes of tasks I complete every day.”
Another user, who works in health care, was also pleased with the program: “I’m mainly doing research involving public health and the built environment. I have huge datasets that require a lot of processing time and have realized if I break them into smaller pieces, I am happier with my results from QGIS when compared to other programs.”
“I am a civil and environmental engineer,” says a user of GIS software ArcGIS. “I’ve worked on various projects, including pipeline rehabilitation and water distribution network and stormwater management. I’ve used GIS to delineate watersheds, mark utility information on maps and to populate corresponding attributes.”
GIS software lets users visualize and analyze geospatial data in one place, making it an important tool for research, development and planning. Modern technology developed this software’s functionality and now, mobile GIS allows users to create, access and distribute maps directly from their smartphones and tablets.