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Concept of Geographic Information

Esubalew Nebebe,
October, 2017
What is a GIS ?
(Geographic Information System)

A GIS is a computerized spatial data handling systems," that

"automate the manipulation and integration of spatial data files.

Geographic Information System (GIS) is an organized

collection of computer hardware, software, geographical data
and personnel designed to efficiently capture, store, update,
manipulate, analyze, and display all forms of geographically
referenced information (ESRI, 1995) .

GIS is an integrated system of computer hardware, software,

and trained personnel linking topographic, demographic, utility,
facility, image and other resource data that is geographically
referenced. (NASA)
Geographic Information System (GIS)

The Power of Mapping

A geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize,
question, analyze, and interpret data to understand
relationships, patterns, and trends (ESRI)
It is an organized collection of computer hardware,
software, geographical data, and personnel designed to
efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze
and display all forms of Geographically referenced data
(Burrough 1998).
In a nutshell, GIS is a collection of computer hardware,
software, and geographic data for capturing, managing,
analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically
referenced information (Longley et al., 2005).
Why GIS?
GIS is the go-to technology for making better decisions about
location. Common examples include real estate site
selection, route/corridor selection, evacuation planning,
conservation, natural resource extraction, etc. Making correct
decisions about location is critical to the success of an

GIS-based maps and visualizations greatly assist in

understanding situations and in storytelling. They are a type
of language that improves communication between different
teams, departments, disciplines, professional fields,
organizations, and the public.
Why GIS?

Better Record Keeping: Many organizations have a

primary responsibility of maintaining authoritative records
about the status and change of geography. GIS provides
a strong framework for managing these types of records
with full transaction support and reporting tools.

GIS is becoming essential to understanding what is

happening and what will happen in geographic space.
Once we understand, we can prescribe action. This new
approach to management, managing geographically is
transforming the way organizations operate.
Why GIS?

Data can be easily shared or accessed by

different persons, departments, institutes, etc.

GIS puts accurate, current, flexible information

at you and your staffs fingertips whenever you
need it.

Eliminate unnecessary time of data searching or

trying to correct inaccurate data
Why GIS?
Productivity will improve and reduce workloads.

Help organizations reduce and eliminate

redundant steps in workflow processes.

Helps for public and/or decision makers convey

complex information in easy-to-understandable
Why GIS?
GIS facilitates the phases of data entry, data
analysis, and data presentation.
To gain a scientific understanding of earth
systems at a truly global scale which leads to
more thoughtful, informed decision making.
To better understand a complex situation and offer
some tangible solutions
How Does GIS Work?

A simple five-step process lets you apply GIS to

any business or organizational problem that
requires a geographic decision.
What is the problem you are trying to solve or
analyze, and where is it located? Framing the
question will help you decide what to analyze
and how to present the results to your audience.
Next you need to find the data needed to
complete your project. The type of data and the
geographic scope of your project will help direct
your methods of collecting data and conducting
the analysis.
You will only know for certain that your data is
appropriate for your study after thoroughly
examining it. This includes how the data is
organized, how accurate it is, and where the
data came from.
Geographic analysis is the core strength of GIS.
Depending on your project, there are many
different analysis methods to choose from. GIS
modeling tools make it relatively easy to make
these changes and create new output.
The results of your analysis can be shared
through reports, maps, tables, and charts and
delivered in printed format or digitally over a
network or on the web. You need to decide on
the best means for presenting your analysis, and
GIS makes it easy to tailor the results for
different audiences.
GIS Components
This is the most important component in a GIS. People must develop
the procedures and define the tasks of the GIS. People can often
overcome shortcomings in other components of the GIS, but the best
software and computers in the world cannot compensate for the
incompetence of people.

The availability and accuracy of data can affect the results of any query
or analysis.

Hardware capabilities affect processing speed, ease of use, and the
type of output available.

This includes not only actual GIS software, but also various databases,
drawing, statistical, imaging, or other software.

Analysis requires well- defined, consistent methods to produce
accurate, reproducible results.
Data, Information & Metadata
representations that can be operated upon by a computer

data that has been interpreted by a human being

data about data
Spatial data quality

Temporal accuracy


Logical Consistency
GIS Capability
Capturing data
A GIS must provide methods for inputting geographic (coordinate) and
tabular (attribute) data. The more input methods available, the more
versatile the GIS.

Querying data
A GIS must provide utilities for finding specific features based on
location or attribute value.

Analyzing data
A GIS must be able to answer questions regarding the interaction of
spatial relationships between multiple datasets.

Displaying data
A GIS must have tools for visualizing geographic features using a
variety of symbology.
GIS functionality
Capturing data
Data Sources
Primary Sources
Ground Survey, Field name collection, Aerial Photo, Satellite Imageries, census etc..
Secondary Sources
Existing maps, Different documents, etc..

Capturing Methods:
Photogrammetry, Ground Survey, Remote Sensing, Digitizing from existing
information, etc
Storing data
There are two basic models used for geographic data storage: vector and raster. A GIS
should be able to store both types of geographic data.
Vector formats
Discrete representations of reality
The vector data model represents geographic features much the same way maps do-using
points, Lines and areas.
x, y & z (Cartesian, polar or geographic) coordinate system is used to references real
world locations.

Raster Formats
Use square cells to model reality
Instead of representing features by their x, y coordinates the raster data model assigns
values to cells that cover coordinate locations. Raster format is well suited to spatial
analysis and is also appropriate for storing data collected in grid format. The amount of
detail you can show for a particular feature depends on the size of the cells in the grid.
Identifying specific features
One common type of GIS query is to determine what exists at a particular location. In this
type of query, the user understands where the features of interest are, but wants to know
what characteristics are associated with them. This can be accomplished with GIS because
the spatial features are linked to the descriptive characteristics.

Identifying features based on conditions

Another type of GIS query is to determine the locations that satisfy certain conditions. In this
case the user known what characteristics are important and wants to find out where the
features are that have those characteristics.

eg. Selecting sub-cities in Addis Ababa with a Population of greater than 1.5 million

In a GIS, you Suppose you wanted to find

can click on a landlocked countries with a
map feature to population greater than 20 million.
see the You would create a query
attributes expression with those criteria.
associated with When the GIS finds features that
the feature in the meet the query's criteria, it
database. highlights them on the map.
Proximity analysis
How many houses lie 100 meters of this water main?
What is the total number of customers within 10 kilometers of a store?
Which parcels are with in 50 feet from a road?
To answer such questions, GIS technology uses a process called buffering
to determine the proximity between features.
Analysis (cont.)
Overlay analysis
The integration of different data layers involves a process called overlay. An
overlay process combines the features of two or more layers that contain
the attributes of both. This resulting layer can be analyzed to determine
which features overlap, or more areas. An overlay could be done to
combine soil and vegetation layers to calculate the area of a certain
vegetation type on a specific type of soil.
For many types of geographic operations, the end result is best
visualized as a map or graph. maps are efficient for storing and
communicating geographic information. Cartographers create maps
for malaria distribution, but GIS provides new and exiting tools to
extend the art and science of cartography. Maps can be integrated
with reports, three dimensional views, photographic images, and
other digital media.

Using a GIS, you can display

data in a variety of ways to
suit your purpose and your
Sharing the results of your geographic labor is one of the primary justifications for
investing resources in GIS. Taking displays created through a GIS and outputting
them into a distributable format is a great way to do this. The more avenues for
output a GIS can offer, the greater the potential for reaching the right audience with
the right information.
Abstracting real-world entities
It is impossible to capture everything from reality into a computer. Instead,
GIS must somehow abstract real-world phenomena, or entities, into a
geometric representation of those entities. There are three basic geometric
shapes used for geographic features: points, lines, and areas. These
shapes can be called geometric objects, geometric features, or features

There are different methods of making these entities digital, including

scanning and digitizing.
Storing abstracted objects
There are two basic models for storing geographic data: the vector and
raster data models.

The vector data model stores positional coordinates for each shape.

The raster format uses a grid of square cells to represent real-world entities.
Components of geographic data
There are three main components to geographic data:
Geometry represents the geographic features associated with real-world
locations. Geographic features are abstracted into (drawn as) points, lines, or
polygons (areas).
Attributes are descriptive characteristics of the geographic features.
Behavior means that geographic features can be made to allow certain types of
editing, display, or analysis, depending on circumstances that the user defines.
Feature behavior is most easily implemented in the geodatabase.
E.g. Rules: river may not overpass road
Feature spatial relationships
On a map, feature spatial relationships, or where they
are located in space relative to one another,
communicate important information

Topology is a mathematical procedure used to determine

feature spatial relationships and properties, including:
Connectivity of lines
Direction of lines
Length of lines
Adjacency of areas
Area definition

Topology can answer questions like:

What is adjacent to the Hilton Hotel?
What street intersects Municipality to National
How large is the Municipality parking lot?
What is the quickest path from the Municipality
to the Bole international Airport?
How a GIS organizes geographic
A GIS organizes and stores information about the world as a collection
of thematic layers that can be linked by geography. Each layer contains
features having similar attributes, like streets or water bodies, which are
located within the same geographic extent.

These four layers might be part of one

city's geographic dataset. The layers all
contain features located within the city's
boundaries, but each one represents a
distinct "theme."
Linking features and attributes
Each individual feature is assigned a unique numerical identifier and is
characterized by a unique location in space and corresponding record in a
feature attribute table. While the exact name of the numerical identifier may
differ according to the data format, it is important to understand this one-to-
one relationship between feature, identifier, and attribute record.

Each feature has a record in the table.

A unique identifier links a feature with
its attributes
GIS database
The database is a collection of the spatial and descriptive attributes of real-
world objects. For best results, the database should be organized to
efficiently serve one or more applications and be maintained by a set of
well-documented and well-administered procedures.

It allows concurrent use

It support storage optimization

It support data integrity

It has a query facility

It offers query optimization

GIS Visualization