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Introduction to GIS

Introduction to GIS
‹ GIS = Geographic Information Systems;
Geospatial Information Systems; Geologic
Information Systems (also geospatial
database management)

‹ What Information are we talking about?

• Information about anything that has a
place (e.g. locations of features, address
of people) on Earth’s surface, i.e. has
• Information about those features or
people, i.e. descriptions about them in
tabular form
Introduction to GIS (cont’d)
‹ GIS: a computer-based system
• Capturing (data input)
• Storing (in various formats)
• Manipulating (editing, subtracting, etc.)
• Displaying (map, graphs, tables, etc.)
• Querying (finding subsets of data)
• Analyzing (seeing relationships between
variables or parameters)

of geographically referenced data

Example of Geographically Referenced Data

Figure 1.1
An example of geographically referenced data. The street network is based on a
plane coordinate system. The box on the right lists the x- and y-coordinates of
the end points and other attributes of a street segment
How is GIS Different from Other
Digital Maps?
GIS = dynamic relations between
spatial data (georeferenced) &
relational data (attribute of
features in tabular forms)

GIS can show descriptions of a

feature in form of maps (e.g. query)

You can get description of a feature

shown on a map (e.g. identify)
GIS Is Not a Software
‹ GIS is a concept – not a software
(e.g. ArcGIS, MapInfo, Grass,
Autodesk Map, GeoMedia, etc.)
‹ ERSI is the largest vendor who

produces ArcGIS, ArcView,

ArcInfo, etc.
Relations of Software
‹ All ESRI products are called Arc---,
e.g. ArcGIS has three version:
ArcView, ArcEditor, ArcInfo (ArcTool,
ArcCatalog, ArcMap are found in
‹ ArcView 3.X is an earlier version of

ArcView 9.X, which is a part of

ESRI’s Software Structure

(ArcTool, ArcCatalog, ArcMap)

What Can GIS Do?
‹ GIS deals with digital
(virtual) maps
‹ Overlays maps with various
“themes” or “layers”
‹ Unlike paper maps, all of
these themes are
“transparent”, i.e. you can
see a theme that is covered
by another theme
Overlapping of layers or themes of an area

A vector-based overlay operation combines spatial data and
attribute data from different layers to create the output.
Overlapping of raster layers of an area

Figure A raster data operation with multiple rasters can take

advantage of the fixed cell locations.
GIS Can Also…
‹ Change map scales easily
‹ Add, remove, hide themes

‹ Copy maps as many times as

you want
What Else Can GIS Do? (cont’d)

‹ Imports & exchanges data

from other sources &
formats (we will do in the lab)
‹ Projects & re-projects maps
• We will have a separate lecture
& Lab on this topic
‹ Geocodes text files/street
Which Disciplines Can Use GIS?
‹ Virtually anyone who needs
information that can be tied to a
location on Earth (i.e. people through
their addresses or features through
their geographic locations

‹ Let’s see some examples, and think

of more examples (I will ask you to
come up with ideas)
Applications of GIS
‹ Hydrogeologists monitor water quality and
relate to landuse
‹ Biologists can track trends in invader
species spread over years
‹ Ecologists can assess suitable habitat for
a species
‹ Businessmen can study feasibility of a new
‹ Engineers can find least-cost path for a
new road
Spatial Features vs. Map Features

‹ Geog. coor. ‹ Plane coor.

System Systems
‹ Points, “curved ‹ Points, straight
lines”, “curved lines and flat
areas” areas
Two Types of Data Used in GIS
Vector Data Raster Data
™ Discrete features ™ Continuous features

™ Points: wells, ™ Uses grids and cells

outcrops, hydrants, with unique values
tel. poles ™ Rainfall, surface
™ Lines: roads, rivers elevation, depths, soil
™ Areas: landuse, veg. erosion
types, soil types ™ Simple data structure

™ Uses points with x, y (rows & columns)

coor. ™ File size depends on

™ Can be topological or cell (pixel) resolution

non-topological data
Vector vs. Raster Data

Figure 1.2
The vector data model uses x-, y-coordinates to represent point features
(a), and the raster data model uses cells in a grid to represent point
features (b).
GIS Operations
‹ Spatial Data Input
‹ Attribute Data management

‹ Data Display

‹ Data Exploration

‹ Data Analysis

‹ GIS Modeling
Classification of
GIS Operations

more involved

Figure 1.8
A classification of GIS