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What is GIS and what is it used for?

A Geographic Information System (GIS) "integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information" (ESRI).  GIS also stands for Geographic Information Science because it is a large field incorporating many avenues of research.

Some example applications for GIS include:

  • social workers mapping out food deserts in cities
  • glaciologists using satellite images over time to study glacier movement
  • sociologists examining the community changes based on distributions of race, religion, ethnicity, etc. in an area
  • disaster response personnel planning emergency routing on road networks

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Diane Fritz

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