GIS is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, integrating, manipulating, analyzing and displaying data related to positions on the Earth's surface.
Typically, a Geographic Information System is used for handling maps of one kind or another. These might be represented as several different layers where each layer holds data about a particular kind of feature.
Each feature is linked to a position on the graphical image on a map and a record in an attribute table. GIS can relate otherwise disparate data on the basis of common geography, revealing hidden patterns, relationships, and trends that are not readily apparent in spreadsheets or statistical packages, often creating new information from existing data resources.
Hidden in most data is a geographical component: an address, postal code, census block, city, county, or latitude/longitude coordinate. With GIS, you can explore the spatial element of your data to display soil types, track crime patterns, analyze animal migration patterns, find the best location for an expanding business, model the path of atmospheric pollution, and make decisions for many types of complicated problems.
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