Geographic information systems (GIS) - what is it?
GIS (stands for “Geographic Information Systems”) are computer systems that enable the output of data on a screen in electronic form. Images obtained by GIS refer to the new generation of maps.
Geography on the screen
Such maps can be supplied in addition to geographic and other data from the field of statistics, demography, etc. With them there are various types of analytical operations that are not available for old paper media.
Technical support for electronic maps exists in the form of a huge amount of analytics, editing tools, and extensive databases. During their creation and use, a lot of modern tools are involved - from scanners to space satellites taking pictures of the earth's surface.
The information obtained with the help of new technologies is used not only by geographers, but also among business, construction, marketing, and public administration.Even housewives know what geographic information systems are. And they quite successfully use electronic cards!
GIS - definitions and basic concepts
What exactly does this term mean? Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - the name of the systems whose purpose is to collect, store and analyze spatial data, as well as their graphic visualization. GIS refers to the computer technology of the new generation. The science that studies the applied and technical aspects of working with GIS is geoinformatics.
GIS is a good combination of the ability to work with databases (queries, analytics) and spatial visualization typical for maps. Data storage in such a system is carried out by thematic layers, tied to a geographical location. GIS works with both raster and vector data, so that any problem related to spatial information can be effectively solved with their help.
What makes them different
The characteristic features possessed by the geoinformation system include developed analytics, work with vast amounts of information, the presence of special tools for processing spatial data.
Their main advantages are user-friendliness (the data in the three-dimensional dimension are the easiest to read), the ability to integrate information accumulated by various sources, to create a single array for collective use.
Then there is an automatic analysis of geospatial data and a report, the use of decoding of aerial and space imagery, previously created schemes and terrain plans, which increases the efficiency by an order of magnitude. Significant saving of time resources and the ability to create three-dimensional models of geographical objects.
GIS functions are a series of operations for:
- data entry (digital maps are created automatically),
- data management (they are all saved with the possibility of further processing and use),
- their request and analysis by comparing a set of parameters,
- visualization of the received and processed data in the form of interactive maps.
Reports on each object can take the form of a graph, chart or three-dimensional image.
With the help of the GIS system, it becomes possible to determine the presence, quantity and relative position of all existing objects in a given area.In addition, it is used, for example, to analyze geospatial data characterizing the density of settlement, etc., and determine various changes over time.
With the help of GIS systems, it became possible to simulate the proposed situation, for example, adding a new object — a road, residential area, etc.
GIS - classification
There are several classifications of these systems. If we divide them according to the principle of territory coverage, then each GIS can be attributed to global, subcontinental, national, regional, subregional, as well as local or local systems.
If we start from the level of management, then these systems consist of federal, regional, municipal and corporate.
They are distinguished by their functionality. GIS (interpretation of the abbreviation is understandable to a large number of users) can be both full-featured and specialized, designed to solve certain tasks - for example, viewing data, entering and processing it.
Depending on the subject area, GIS can be attributed to cartographic, geological, environmental protection, as well as municipal or urban.
Integrated geographic information systems are those in which, in addition to the standard functionality, it is possible to subject images to digital processing. Full-scale GIS reproduce data at any selected scale. Spatio-temporal systems make it possible to operate with information in the past or future time.
Where are GIS applied
GIS is a versatile tool with a wide range of applications. What exactly?
- A typical area of their use is land management, cadastral compilation, area calculation and the establishment of land boundaries. It was to solve such problems that the first such systems were created.
- Another area is the management of production infrastructure facilities, their accounting, planning, inventory. Creation and placement of a network of objects of a specific purpose - shops, gas stations, etc.
- Engineering surveys and planning in the field of architecture and construction, the solution of problems for the development of the territory and the optimization of its infrastructure.
- Creating thematic maps.
- Management of all types of transport - from land to water and air.
- Activities for nature conservation, environmental activities, planning and management of natural resources, environmental monitoring, modeling of environmental processes.
- Sphere of geology and mining industry. With the help of GIS, it became possible to calculate the mineral reserve based on exploratory drilling samples and field structure modeling.
- Forecasting emergency situations (emergency situations). The system allows you to warn about future floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and calculate their potential danger. It becomes possible to estimate the damage and calculate the required material and human resources.
- The military sphere. On the maps of a new generation, visibility zones are easier to calculate, the most optimal routes for movement are plotted, etc.
- Agricultural production. It became possible to predict the harvest, to optimize the transportation and marketing of products.
What does a GIS consist of
Now let's talk about the structure of a geographic information system. It implies several components that are key.First of all, we are talking about hardware - computer platforms of various types, software (means for entering and operating geographic data, DBMS, etc.). Then - in fact, about the data (in tabular or other form) obtained both by the user and on a commercial basis from specialized suppliers. As mentioned above, data can be integrated with data from other sources in order to streamline and share information.
The system's users are also specialists with technical education, leading its service and support, and ordinary employees who use electronic cards to solve many everyday problems.
A bit of history
The first attempts of such developments relate to the end of the 50s - the beginning of the 70s of the last century. It was then that the first practical experience was gained, pilot projects and theoretical developments were created. The appearance of the first computers belongs to this time.
A decade later, a number of peripheral devices already existed. A graphic display and many other things were invented, then software algorithms for information processing began to appear.Gradually, ways to carry out spatial analysis were developed and approved, and programs for working with the database (databases) appeared.
Since the 70s. Thanks to government support, pilot projects have emerged on the use of GIS in navigation and garbage collection systems, traffic, etc.
Since the 80s. began a period of development on a commercial basis. The market was filled with a mass of software, all kinds of applications appeared, the number of users who learned what GIS technology was, exceeded the number of professional specialists.
In the present period, which can be called user, due to the high competition among producers, it became possible to create thematic groups of consumers, hold teleconferences, form a single global geostructure.
On the prospects of GIS
The emergence of geo-design, which is required everywhere now, from the land use and nature protection to the planning of new infrastructure and construction projects, as well as maintenance of utility networks, etc., can be considered a new stage in the evolution of GIS.
The future belongs to GIS technologies containing the beginnings of artificial intelligence. Modern GIS is the latest computer development based on the use of space and aerial photography, which are used to implement global government programs.
Now GIS systems are developing at an unprecedented pace and are among the most commercially interesting solutions. In Russia today, about 200 different organizations are engaged in their development and implementation, which allows us to talk about competition with Western manufacturers. It is no secret to anyone that behind new technologies there are huge prospects based on the further development of computer information processing facilities.