Geographic information systems, often known as GIS, are computer-based tools for the capture, analysis, storage, manipulation and visualization of geographic information. Companies, researchers and individuals use GIS to analyze spatial data and create maps of many different types. GIS-created maps can store and display large amounts of data within a single map.
GIS programs use specific tools to make spatial analysis more efficient, such as buffer tools, which create radiating circles around points to show areas affected by attributes at that point, such as noise pollution. Additionally, GIS uses varying displays for different data, such as discrete data divided into categories or continuous data that changes gradually across areas.
By efficiently showing data difference across areas, GIS allows a wide variety of research uses. For instance, using GIS, a researcher may make a map showing sources of pollution, such as oil refineries, and places sensitive to pollutions, such as wetlands. Such a map helps show areas at risk from pollution. Many businesses also use GIS to manage spatially reliant processes, such as transportation services and location planning.
GIS programs require computers with significant processing power to tackle large amounts of data. Many GIS set-ups also use dual monitors. Many different brands produce GIS software, such as ArcGIS, QGIS, SuperGIS and SAGA GIS.