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Introduction to

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Chapter 1

Khadar Abdisalam, M.Sc.

Golis University
Chapter Outline

1 3



2 Geographic Information
Systems (GIS)
We Live in Two Worlds
Natural World Constructed World

Self-Regulating Managed
. . . These Are Increasingly In Conflict
“Geo” = Earth

study of the

and where things are

Data vs. Information

Data  raw facts, no context, just numbers and

 Data is of little use unless it is transformed
into information.

 data with context

Information  Processed data
 value-added to data
 summarized
 organized
 Analyzed
 We transform data into information through
the use of an Information System
Data vs. Information
• Data: 51018
• Information:
 5/10/18 The date of your final exam.
 $51,018 The average starting salary of an
engineering major.
 51018 Zip code of Berbera.
Data vs. Information

Data Information

• 6.45
• 6.39
• 6.62 $7.00

• 6.57 $6.80

Stock Price
• 6.64 $6.60
• 6.71 $6.40
• 6.82 $6.20
• 7.12
• 7.06
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Last 10 Days
Data  Information 

Summarizing the data

Averaging the data
Selecting part of the data
Graphing the data
Adding context
Adding value

Data  Information 

How is the info tied to outcomes?

Are there any patterns in the info?
What info is relevant to the problem?
How does this info effect the system?
What is the best way to use the info?
How can we add more value to the info?

Information Systems

Generic Goal:
• Transform Data into Information

 At the Core of an Information System is a

Database (raw data).
What is an Information
What is GIS?

What is a GIS?
GIS Definition

A GIS is a system (hardware + database engine)

that is designed to efficiently, assemble, store,
update, analyze, manipulate, and display
geographically referenced information (data
identified by their locations).
A GIS also includes the people operating the
system and the data that go into the system.
What is GIS?

Geographic Information GIS can:

System (GIS) is a computer-
based system including create, edit, query, analyze,
software, hardware, people, and display map information
and geographic information on the computer
Geographic Information System

Information - attributes, or the

Geographic – 80% of government
characteristics (data), can be used
data collected is associated with
to symbolize and provide further
some location in space
insight into a given location

System – a seamless operation

linking the information to the
geography – which requires
hardware, networks, software,
data, and operational procedures

…not just software!

…not just for making maps!
What is a GIS?
GEOGRAPHIC Information System

GIS links graphical features (entities) to

tabular data (attributes)
GIS Functions
Data The input of data into a GIS can be achieved through many different methods of
gathering. For example, aerial photography, scanning, digitizing, GPS or global
Capture: positioning system is just a few of the ways a GIS user could obtain data.

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.

Data The digital geographical data can be edited, this allows for many
Manipulation: attribute to be added, edited, or deleted to the specification of
the project.

Query And GIS was used widely in decision making process for the new
Analysis: commission districts. We use population data to help establish an
equal representation of population to area for each district.

Visualization: This represents the ability to display your data, your maps, and
GIS Components
Hardware Computer System, Scanner, Printer, Plotter, Flat Board

Software GIS software in use are MapInfo, ARC/Info, AutoCAD Map, etc. The software
available can be said to be application specific.

Data A GIS will integrate spatial data with other data resources and can even use a
DBMS, used by most organization to maintain their data, to manage spatial data.
Geographic data and related tabular data can be collected in-house or purchased
from a commercial data provider.

People GIS users range from technical specialists who design and maintain.

Method The map creation can either be automated raster to vector creator or it can be
manually victories using the scanned images. Components
How does a GIS work?
• GIS data has a spatial/geographic

 This might be a reference that

describes a feature on the earth using:

• a latitude & longitude

• a national coordinate system
• an address
• a district
• a road name
Geography and Databases
• A GIS stores information about the
world as a collection of thematic layers
that can be linked together by

Polygon 3 Scrub 17 Very high Clay

GIS provides Data Integration

Topology Dimensions
• Roads
• Land Parcels Surveys
• Population ABC
• Utilities Networks
• Land Mines Images Annotation
• Hospitals CAD
• Refugee Camps 27 Main St.
• Wells
• Sanitation 3D Objects Attributes
Two fundamental types of data
• Vector
 A series of x,y coordinates
 For discrete data represented as points, lines,
• Raster
 Grid and cells
 For continuous data such as elevation, slope,

• A Desktop GIS should be able to handle both

types of data effectively!
Data Representation



Real World
Other features of a GIS
• Produce good cartographic products
(translation = maps)
• Generate and maintain metadata
• Use and share geoprocessing models
• Managing data in a geodatabase
using data models for each sector
What can you do with a GIS?

• The possibilities are unlimited…

 Environmental impact assessment
 Resource management
 Land use planning
 Tax Mapping
 Water and Sanitation Mapping
 Transportation routing
 and more ...
Who uses GIS?
• International organizations
 UN HABITAT, The World Bank, UNEP, FAO, WHO,
• Private industry
 Transport, Real Estate, Insurance, etc.
• Government
 Ministries of Environment, Housing, Agriculture,
 Local Authorities, Cities, Municipalities, etc.
 Provincial Agencies for Planning, Parks,
Transportation, etc.
• Non-profit organizations/NGO’s
 World Resources Institute, ICMA, etc.
• Academic and Research Institutions
 Smithsonian Institution, CIESIN, etc.
…working together!
Thank You!