More and more frequently we hear the abbreviation GIS and we keep on thinking what it means.
GIS comprises all IT systems for spatial analysis, both directly connected with the widely understood field of maps, spatial marketing analyses, optimisation of travel routes, geo-coding (searching a point in space - on a map, basing on address data or locating points in space on the basis of defined searching criteria e.g. cinemas, crossroads etc.) and many others.
Spatial Information Systems include not only an interactive map but they are also a powerful tool very helpful in many fields of business activity. A trivial problem of finding a way or finding certain place on the map or an analysis and a decision based hereon - all of these issues can significantly affect the future of your business and can be easily solved with use of GIS.
GIS comprise not only the digital maps (recorded in form of vectors, points or regions, graphic representations of objects in space), but most of all an IT system that enables to perform different operations with use of map data.
Generally saying GIS is a system of gaining, collecting, processing, analysing and making available the data with a spatial reference to a certain frame of reference, and in particular Earth surface.
GIS and databases
The majority of companies keep enormous quantities of information in their databases. Such information is used both for the every day business as well as to determine short and long term goals. Not uncommonly, such information comprise location data in form of place name, customer's address etc. An analysis of such data in from of a table or a chart does not reflect their spatial representation. The digital map, on contrary, in one tool joins the advantages of a map and a data basis. (Each external data basis can be connected to the map data).
A digital map is a basis of geographical and descriptive data. Geographical data are visualized with use of relevant applications as a map, while descriptive data supplement the map with information necessary to operate the system.
Digital maps in the majority of cases are composed of many logically divided layers, whereby each of the layers reflects other type of objects (water, forests, roads etc.). Application of logical division of layers enables us to analyse data of our interest in a certain moment.
Every one of us has a different idea about a digital map. What we most frequently see as a digital map is the whole chain starting from map data to a full visualisation. In practise this whole chain is formed by GIS and the digital map are raw data that require to be processed by an appropriate application in order to prepare a presentation for a user. It means that the digital map without an IT system in the majority of cases is not enough. In order to make use of all opportunities offered by this technology, a user must be supported by an IT system appropriate for a certain case.