GIS Information GuideGeographic Information System (GIS) software is used by businesses to store, manage, retrieve, display and analyze many types of spatial and geographic data.

Today, companies have access to innovative GIS software that allows them to quickly produce maps and other useful graphic displays of geographic information for presentation and analysis purposes.

With a wide range of features and capabilities, GIS mapping software is a valuable tool for visualizing spatial data. Features are generally classified as lines, points or areas and in some cases, as raster images.

Although the use of GIS mapping software may sound complex, it is actually quite easy to understand and master.

When used as intended, GIS mapping software enables businesses to quickly and efficiently answer questions they may have about a location by using easily accessible data.

Businesses new to GIS mapping will benefit by first learning about the different map types, its basic users and how GIS mapping software is read and interpreted.

How is GIS Technology Used?

Companies use GIS technology for a wide range of purposes, making it a highly versatile and convenient tool. The primary function of GIS is the visual representation of data.

It can be challenging to read and understand data when it is written on spreadsheets or similar formats. With a large percentage of business data having some type of geospatial element, it makes sense to store data in a database that can be represented in a visual map format.

GIS technology can also be useful for performing proximity analyses. A proximity analysis refers to an analytical technique that defines a relationship between a specified location and other points or links that are connected in some way.

This technique considers various factors, such as economic and social demographics, as well as the presence of local competitor outlets.

There are many reasons why businesses use proximity analysis, such as to measure the distance between two points, or to determine what is the closest point in terms of time or the cost to reach a certain point.

Satellite Image of an AreaThe use of buffering in GIS is also a common technique that can be used with proximity analysis. Buffering is used to indicate the sphere of influence around a specified point.

This is accomplished by creating a zone around the line, point or polygon of a specific distance. Businesses often use buffering to create a zone around a specified geographic feature for further analyses using features, including the overlay method.

When there is a group of unrelated points that match a set of criteria, it is known as a cluster. Clustering models may include centroid models, connectivity models, distribution models, subspace models, density models, group models or subspace models.

Common Types of GIS Maps

There are many different types of maps that can be created using GIS mapping software and business data. Some of the most common types of GIS maps created by businesses include the following:

Quantity Maps

Quantity maps are often color-coded with darker colors representing one end of the spectrum and lighter colors representing the other end. For example, a dark blue hue may represent more sales on a map while a lighter blue hue may indicate fewer sales. Quantity maps can be used for a range of reasons, such as to identify trends or patterns based on location.

Bubble Maps

Also referred to as “graduated marker maps”, bubble maps are similar to quantity maps but instead of relying on colors to represent certain data, they use a range of bubble sizes to show variance.

Heat Maps

When location is highly dense and other types of maps are not sufficient at showing variance, heat maps may be used. Heat maps are often used when mapping points or single locations on the map that are represented by coordinates.

Cluster Maps

Cluster maps are similar to heat maps as they help solve the same problems. A cluster map is often used to show point layers that contain a large number of features, but clusters nearby points together to form a single point. Cluster points may use various sizes, colors or labels to communicate the separate points that each cluster contains.

Speak with an Experienced GIS Mapping Professional

GIS Software Highlighting Geographical Area
Although every GIS software program is unique, many share similar features and functionalities. The legend of the map allows users to determine what each of the items on the map represent.

A map’s legend will generally list all of the layers and show symbols that represent different data on the map. There is also an information window that may be displayed in the sidebar or as a popup.

The information window displays supplemental data about the map which can be useful when interpreting what is being seen. There is also a toolbar display on the top or side of the interface.

To learn more about GIS mapping software, contact the experienced GIS mapping professionals at Geographic Enterprises.