Geographic Information System
What is a GIS?
In the strictest sense, a geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system capable of assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying geographically referenced information, i.e. data identified according to their locations. GIS technology integrates common database operations with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by maps. These abilities distinguish GIS from other information and database systems.
A GIS allows a better understanding and evaluation of the available data by creating new maps, using information stored in the databases or by display it against any background map.
Importantly a GIS is dynamic. The maps that are created are not limited to a single moment in time. An update of the information linked to a map automatically causes the GIS maps to reflect those changes. GIS creates map displays and maps for presentation simply by pointing and clicking. GIS allows visualisation and analysis of information in new ways.
GIS is a tool used by individuals and organizations, schools, governments, and businesses seeking innovative ways to solve their problems and to plan their strategies.
We, at A F Howland Associates, have been involved in the processing of geoenvironmental data since the mid 1980’s. Indeed, the regeneration process of east London by the LDDC was aided by the use of an early generation of a geographic information system developed by us. We have since developed the procedures further and now maintain a dedicated GIS service.
We have developed a front-end GIS module for our GEOtechnical DAtabase SYstem, GEODASY. This is termed GEOVIEW and if you ever have used map pins to identify features on a map, then you will realise one of the benefit of the modern Geographic Information System (GIS) technology.
Local governments are increasingly required to adhere to complex political or regulatory requirements. To do so, they must digest an immense amount of information to perform their duties in a fair and sound manner. Almost all of this information is in some way tied to a geographic element such as an address, parcel, postal code, Census block, or some other component, which belong to the various departments.
Maps can be digitised, or hand-traced with at computer mouse. Electronic scanning devices will also convert map lines and points to digits. But the challenge is to add attribute data to these geometric entities through their coordinates and the design of appropriate database systems.