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Components and Functions of GIS - Geographic Information System (GIS) | 12th Geography : Chapter 6 : Geoinformatics

Chapter: 12th Geography : Chapter 6 : Geoinformatics

Geographic Information System (GIS)

The Geographic information systems have emerged in the past two decades as an essential tool for urban and resource planning and management.

Geographic Information System (GIS)

The Geographic information systems have emerged in the past two decades as an essential tool for urban and resource planning and management. It includes the functions of data entry, data display, data management, information retrieval and analysis. While GIS deals with entire geography of the earth including land, ocean and atmosphere, the art, science and technology dealing with the acquisition, storage, processing, production, presentation and dissemination of the earth’s information is called the Geoinformatics. It is the popular means of studies in recent decades which cater the real and useful information to the field of Geography, Environmental Studies, Town planning, Rural development studies, and Defense and Agricultural promotion.


Generation of the computers

1940 – 1956: First Generation – Vacuum Tubes

1956 – 1963: Second Generation – Transistors

1964 – 1971: Third Generation – Integrated Circuits

 1972 – 2010: Fourth Generation – Microprocessors

 2010 – Fifth Generation – Artificial Intelligence


Components of GIS

The components of GIS can be broadly classified into five types. They are mentioned below.

A. Hardware

Hardware is Computer on which GIS software runs. Nowadays there are a different ranges of computer, it might be Desktop or server based. ArcGIS Server is server based computer where GIS software runs on network computer or cloud based. For computer to perform well all hardware components must have high capacity. Some of the hardware components are: Motherboard, Hard drive, processor, graphics card, printer and so on. These all component function together to run GIS software smoothly.

B. Software

Next component is GIS software which provides tools to run and edit spatial information. It helps to query, edit, run and display GIS data. It uses RDBMS (Relational Database Management System) to store the data. Few GIS software list: ArcGis, ArcView 3.2, QGIS, SAGA GIS.

C. Data

Geographic data and related tabular data can be collected in-house compiled to custom specifications and requirements (or) purchased from a commercial data provider.

A GIS can integrate spatial data with other existing data resources often stored in a corporate data base management System. The data can be broadly classified as

i. Attribute data

ii. Spatial data

iii. Remote sensing data

iv. Global data base.

You will learn in detail about each of the above classification of data in higher studies.

D. People

The GIS technology is used by a huge number of industrialists and agencies to help plan, design, engineer, build and maintain information infrastructures that affects our everyday lives.

E. Methods or Procedures

Methods here refer to well-defined, consistent procedures that are required to produce accurate, reproducible result. A neatly conceived implementation plan and business rules are the models and operating practices are unique to each organization. There is need to properly integrate the sophisticated tool through bringing out well- defined procedures in well documented form into the entire business strategy and operation to make the technology effective. Meta data i.e., (data about the data) is the key for documenting these processes.


Functions of GIS

The functions of GIS describe the steps that have to be taken to implement a GIS. These steps have to be followed in order to obtain a systematic and efficient system. The steps involved are data capture, data storage (GIS Data Models), manipulation and analysis.

Data Capture

The input of data into a GIS can be achieved through many different methods of gathering. For example, aerial photography, scanning, digitizing, GNSS is just a few of the ways a GIS user could obtain data. Digitization: A conversion process which converts paper maps into numerical digits that can be stored in the computer. Digitizing simplifies map data into sets of points, lines or cells that can be stored in the GIS computer. In this stage, digitization is carried out. There are two basic methods of digitization: Manual digitizing & scanning.

Data Storage

Some data is stored such as a map in a drawer, while others, such as digital data, can be as a hardcopy, stored on CD or on your hard drive. Once the data have been digitally compiled, digital map files in the GIS are stored on magnetic or other digital media. Data storage is based on a Generic Data Model that is used to convert map data into a digital form. The two most common types of data models are Raster and Vector. Both types are used to simplify the data shown on a map into a more basic form that can be easily and efficiently stored in the computer.

Data Manipulation

The digital geographical data can be edited, this allows for many attribute to be added, edited, or deleted to the specification of the project. Once data are stored in a GIS, many manipulation options are available to users. These functions are often available in the form of “Toolkits.” A toolkit is a set of generic functions that a GIS user can employ to manipulate and analyse geographical data. Toolkits provide processing functions such as data retrieval measuring area and perimeter, overlaying maps, performing map algebra, and reclassifying map data. Data manipulation tools include coordinate change, projections, and edge matching, which allow a GIS to reconcile irregularities between map layers or adjacent map sheets called Tiles.

Query and Analysis

GIS was used widely in decision making process for the new commission districts. We use population data to help establish an equal representation of population to area for each district. The heart of GIS is the analytical capabilities of the system.

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