GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. GIS is a computerized mapping system that stores, displays and analyzes any type of data that has a geographic location. A GIS takes data from a table, spreadsheet, or database and creates a map. It allows you to view, understand, and visualize your data in ways that are simply not possible using rows and columns. GIS also permits you to work with large quantities of data. Data can be combined from many different sources and displayed simultaneously as layers of information stacked on top of each other.
GIS is used across disciplines throughout the world. Environmental managers employ GIS to inventory and manage resources for the future. Decisions on how to efficiently log forests without creating excessive damage to the environment are possible using a GIS.
Locating businesses or service centers based on cost, site characteristics, transportation, and the consumer base is another example of a GIS application.
GIS is a powerful tool for examining demographic characteristics. A study was undertaken looking at the relationship between persons with disabilities and illiteracy in Canada. This project helped to inform the Canadian Parliament about where literacy services were needed.
This is just scratching the surface of all of the uses and benefits of GIS—if you are interested in how GIS is used in your field, just ask! More examples of how GIS can be applied to business, communication, education, engineering, environmental management, health and human services, natural resources, and transportation can be found at http://www.gis.com.