Cite this

Geographic Information Systems: A Review Report


The study of geographical information system is an important part of construction practice and IT. Many institutions around the world have adopted it. There are a number of changes that this field of study has undergone with the most significant part being played by the increased innovation in computer science.

GIS has revolutionised the way geographical data is presented. In this paper, focus is made on the systems used. A description of the whole geographical information system is also made.

Among the many issues reviewed in the paper include classification of GIS, the four-dimensional GIS, and the GIS subsystems amongst others.

Construction Practice and IT


Geographical information systems are systems based on computer technology enabling their users to collect spatial data, process it, analyses and present it in a logical manner.

According to Jalili, Hassanpour, and Mohammadi, GIS provides an electronic presentation of information, with this being called “spacial data” (2012, p. 256). This information is mainly on the geographical features of the planet, and includes both manmade and natural features.

For the use of the geographical data in analysis, the spatial data is stored in multiple layers. A GIS system allows storage of this information in each of the categories in a spatial layer (Jalili, Hassanpour, &Mohammadi 2012, p. 256).

Examples of these layers in a GIS include the information on the terrain, the demographic information of the area, data from the census on the area, wildlife, ecological data, land, and resource uses among many others.

A GIS also allows attribute data to be accessed via a link to the information on the map, though this information is stored elsewhere. This information, which is stored in databases elsewhere, can be accessed by clicking on the links provided in maps.

Current developments in the GIS have allowed the two sets of information (spatial and attribute data) to be accessed at the same time (Jalili, Hassanpour, &Mohammadi 2012, p. 256).

This article reviews the existing knowledge and practices in the use of Geographic information Systems, and uses current and credible literature to achieve this.

As indicated above, current developments in GIS have allowed researchers and scientists in various fields to present geographical information in a logical manner.

One such development is the ability of these systems to allow the combination of geographical data and other types of data o create a logical presentation of information (Nahayo, Nsengumuremyi, & Ekise 2012, p. 165).

Some of the uses that these developments have been put to include the generation of maps and reports, which are then presented in a systematic and easy to understand manner.

A modern definition for GIS follows, “a computer system capable of assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying geographically referenced information” (Nahayo, Nsengumuremyi, &Ekise 2012, p. 165).

With the present software and advanced computers, the systems used in GIS have improved in accuracy, speed, and sophistication. According to Nahayo, Nsengumuremyi and Ekise, the systems have made them dynamic based on how they permitted rapid updating analysis and display (2012, p. 165).

Satellite technology has also contributed to the growths in this field, with some of the other developments being the Global positioning systems (GPS), ground surveys, aerial photos, maps, and satellite imagery (Nahayo, Nsengumuremyi, & Ekise 2012, p. 165).

Classification of GIS

GIS can be classified into a number of types, and different GIS applications can be classified into two or more of these types depending on the criteria used. The major criteria for classification of GIS depend in the dimensions, the data used and the use to which the systems are put to.

There are a number of classifications that are traditional, and these have been replaced by the mode of data input and presentation used.

The traditional classification of two dimensions that was based on the image presentation only is not considered in this article. This is because the classification has been overtaken by time and almost all users of GIS have phased this out. For the purpose of this study, the major classifications of GIS will be evaluated.

Four-dimensional Geographical Information Systems

With the said advancements in technology and the presentation methods in GIS, four-dimensional presentations of GIS are possible.

One of the earliest of these presentations is the spatial-temporal geo-presentation, which consists of two dimension of space and one of time (Socha, Oelschlegel, Vaughn, & Earl 2012, p. 224).

This technique is not a very reliable and informative method of presentation, and information they may be crucial in analysis may be left out. Interpretation is also tedious and open to errors with the visualisation not being appealing. This challenge has led to the development of four-dimensional GIS.

As Socha, Oelschlegel, Vaughn, and Earl posit, “four-dimensional GIS are designed for three dimensions of space and one of time” (2012, p. 224).

This method and type of GIS has made the systems to be more reliable, neat and appealing in presentation and included multiple presentations.

Some of the major organisations in the world use this class of GIS to do their data input, manipulation, and presentation. It is preferred for complex processes where the efficiency and accuracy is desired.

Multimedia Geographical Information Systems

In this type of GIS, the user is allowed to use a number of geo-referenced multimedia data. Examples of geo-referenced multimedia data include the videos, simulations, and sounds (Pocewicz, Nielsen-Pincus, Brown, & Schnitzer 2012, p. 51).

According to Pocewicz, Nielsen-Pincus, Brown, and Schnitzer, “Multimedia and virtual geo-representations can be stored either in extended relational databases, object databases or in application-specific data stores” (2012, p. 51).

For the user to access the multimedia data in the presentation, a selection of resources from the geo-referenced image map base is necessary (Pocewicz, Nielsen-Pincus, Brown, & Schnitzer 2012, p. 51).

This information is stored in a number of ways, with the most common being the relational databases, with the map providing the primary indexes to the multimedia data being the hyper map (Pocewicz, Nielsen-Pincus, Brown, & Schnitzer 2012, p. 51).

Multimedia geographical information systems are preferred in many of the firms that prefer the presentation of data that is aesthetically appealing and easy to understand, the major contributor of the multimedia presentation of GIS is the advances in computer engineering.

Before the invention of computers, GIS as we presently know it was inexistent. It was inconceivable to have multimedia presentations at the same time. However, with the invention of the computer system, GIS was a reality.

The major development that followed was the multimedia GIS. This classification of GIS is, therefore, as old as computer technology and is promising to improve as the field of computer engineering accomplishes major milestones.

Web Geographical Information Systems

The development of the internet has revolutionised a number of fields, with creation of more professional fields. For the field of construction practice, the internet has brought a number of changes and as Macit, & Gümrükçüoğlu states, the future looks brighter with these changes (2012, p. 555).

Macit and Gümrükçüoğlu also state, “Widespread access to the Internet, the ubiquity of browsers and the explosion of commodified geographic information has made it possible to develop new forms of multimedia geo-representations on the Web” (2012, p. 555).

Traditionally, the presentation of information was based on the existent compute technology, where the desktop was standard device. With the internet present in every corner of the world, geomatics solutions have been made available online.

The future of the industry is also based on the availability of the internet in many parts of the world, and this will push the traditional use of the desktop into the past.

Web GIS is a product of the developments in information technology, and this has resulted to the availability of the service in all corners of the globe. The internet has brought about the integration of the world communities, and these have been able to share their culture and history.

The information about any part of the planet is available on the internet. Virtually, the whole planet has been mapped. Some software has also allowed the presentation of the data on the internet, with the hosting of this information being done by the manufacturers of the software.

The internet has also led to a more advanced type of GIS where virtual environments have been created with manipulation of the existing data. This attempt led to the emergence of ‘Virtual reality geographical Information Systems’, which will be discussed below.

Virtual reality GIS

As discussed above, this type of GIS emerged with the development of the internet and web based services, and the development of fast computers.

According to Brisaboa, Luaces, Places and Seco, “Virtual Reality GIS have been developed to allow the creation, manipulation and exploration of geo-referenced virtual environments, e.g., using VRML modelling (Virtual Reality Modelling Language)” (2010, p.328).

The latest in this type of GIS has been in the use of internet services to access the service. Designers can use 3D simulation of geographical information in this type of GIS to enable them plan.

The advantages of this type of GIS over the other types include its application in different scenarios, which can help predict any future problems. The above listed types of GIS are mainly used in the construction practice. They represent the utilisation of IT in the same field.

Planners and geographers as well as ordinary people can effectively use them due to their relative ease of use. Some individuals have been able to create virtual networks where information is shared and utilised in planning.

The development of smaller and more powerful computer over the last decade has seen the availability of the systems in many parts of the world.

The reason for this case is because many of the users who previously had no experience on the use of the software’s can now get them at a cheaper rate. This argument means that GIS information is readily available to the common person. The changes that are being experienced are because of it.

Multimedia and GIS

Geographical information systems have been in existence and relevant due to the multimedia technology that has hit the market in the recent past. Multimedia technology according to Al qeed et al. is “technology that encompasses various types of data and presents them in an integrated form” (2010, p. 46).

The types of data that is used in the multimedia related to GIS include, “text, graphics, images, hyperlinks, analogue and digital video, hyperlinks, and graphics” (Al qeed et al., 2010, p. 46).

As Al qeed et al. state, “Multimedia GIS systems is a way to overcome the limitations displayed by the technologies when they are used separately” (2010, p. 46).

The presentation of geographic information has changed with the advent of multimedia systems in the industry, and this has aided in the accuracy of the presentations. Al qeed et al. also state that the presentation of geographical information is now possible through combination of several media (2010, p. 46).

This combination often results in a powerful and richer presentation of information and ideas. It is reported to “stimulate the interest of participants as well as enhancing the retention of the shared information” (Al qeed et al. 2010, p. 46).

The world is changing rapidly into a global village. The information age is presently being experienced as a reality. With this hint in mind, the number of people who can correctly use the gadget that were reserved for specialists and elites is now large in all parts of the world.

Multimedia GIS presents this generation of people with an easier and friendly way of using the GIS systems. Both fields of GIS and multimedia however have much to gain from each other.

As Ibraheem states, “multimedia can benefit from GIS by gaining an environment which facilitates the use and analysis of spatial data” (2012, p. 112).

With the combination of the multimedia and geographical information systems, the resultant system is revolutionary and a departure from the past without the disadvantages that the two systems experienced independently.

The GIS subsystems

The geographical information system is a large system with a number of sub-systems within it. The main subsystems that are widely recognised are four. They work in concert to aid in data delivery. They will then be discussed with the relevant literature on them being examined.

Data input subsystem

Data input subsystem is one of the most important of the sub-systems, as it forms the initial process. This sub-system allows users to capture/collect and ‘transform’ spatial and thematic data into digital form (Helen 2012, p. 34). The data that is fed to the system is derived from a series of hard copy sources.

These sources include the reports from the field, aerial photographs of the survey area, documents from the survey, and images that are previously remotely sensed (Helen 2012, p. 34).The data that is put into the system can be of different types, which are dependent on the original sources.

Examples of data types that are presented include musical data, maps, photographs, texts, and sound.

With the combination of GIS and multimedia services, the other types of data that can be input are the remotely sensed imagery, scanned maps, digitised video clips, “DTMs, one or more dimensional measurements, simulation model outputs and others” (Helen 2012, p. 34).

The reason why some of these data forms are presented using the multimedia GIS is because they may have large data volumes rich semantics and the requirements in the processing process may be intensive. As stated above, the types of data presented in the GIS systems can be grouped into spatial and attribute data.

Helen attempts to make a description of spatial data and some of the members of this group. “Spatial data describes the absolute and relative location of geographic features” (Helen 2012, p. 34). Attribute data is the data that is meant to describe the spatial features in a map or other forms of GIS.

Its inclusion is meant to make the interpretation of spatial data simpler and easier. The description of spatial data can be made in a qualitative or quantitative manner based on the type and characteristic of the data. The information or data used to bring out these characteristics is then referred to as attribute data.

As discussed above, the sources of data to be presented in GIS vary. However, there are general categories of the data with the most common of these being the hard copy maps. Hard copy maps are among the oldest forms of data that are presented in the GIS.

The next category of data source is the aerial photographs that were initially taken by the military. With the entry into the information age, newer sources of data include the remotely sensed photographs and the digital data files (Helen 2012, p. 37).

The last example of a category of sources of data includes point data samples obtained from samples. Before the above types of data are presented in the GIS, there is usually a need of converting them into digital forms, and this is because they are often in analogue form (Helen 2012, p. 39).

In the case of maps, for example, digitalisation is necessary and a computer mouse may be used to trace it. The sources of attribute data are as many as the types of attribute data.

According to Helen “Any textual or tabular data than can be referenced to a geographic feature, e.g. a point, line, or area, can be input into a GIS” (2012, p. 34).

Entry of the attribute data from the sources is usually done manually where each of the information is keyed into the system. After the data entry in the system, the next step is the editing and quality assurance.

In the process of entering the data into the system, a number of errors may arise. Therefore, they require correction.

The process through which this correction is achieved is the data editing and verification and hence time consuming since it takes an equivalent of the time spent during the data entry if not more (Ponce-Medellin, Gonzalez-Serna, Vargas, & Ruiz 2009, p. 685).

A classification of the errors occurring during the entry of the spatial data is possible. The first type of error that occurs is because of the incompleteness of the spatial data, which may include missing line segments, points, and even polygons (Ponce-Medellin, Gonzalez-Serna, Vargas, & Ruiz 2009, p. 685).

The next type of error is often regarded as the locational placement errors of spatial data. According to Ponce-Medellin, Gonzalez-Serna, Vargas, and Ruiz “These types of errors usually are the result of careless digitising or poor quality of the original data source” (2009, p. 685).

The other type of error that may occur is the distortion of the spatial data. Many researchers describe this error as mostly occurring when the base maps are not scale-correct over the whole image (Ponce-Medellin, Gonzalez-Serna, Vargas, & Ruiz 2009, p. 685).

Due to the speed of data entry or because of other mistakes, the linkages between the spatial and attribute data may be incorrect, and this may result to a special type of error. In this type of error, a label may be assigned to the wrong spatial data, or an element within the spatial data.

More than one label may also be assigned to one feature in a spatial data, and this may be misleading to the person interpreting the information. It is therefore necessary to correct any of these errors. Another category of errors may result when the attribute data provided in the GIS is wrongly placed or is incomplete.

In most of the cases, the attribute data does not match with the spatial data, and some of the reasons that have been fronted in the occurrence of the error include the presence of many data records or too many data records (Gündogdu 2011, p. 35).

Data storage, editing and retrieval subsystem

After the data has been entered into the system and errors removed, the next step is the storage, editing and retrieval (Favier, & van der Schee 2012, p. 674). This subsystem is said to organise the data stored in a form that is easily retrievable.

According to Favier and van der Schee, this “subsystem organises the data, spatial and attribute, in a form, which permits it to be quickly retrieved by the user for analysis, and permits rapid and accurate updates to be made to the database” (2012, p. 677).

A Database Management System (DBMS) is used in most cases to maintain attribute data while spatial data is encoded and “maintained in a proprietary file format” (Favier, & van der Schee 2012, p. 676).

The data that is put into the system has to be presented in a logical manner, and the organisation is done in the form of layers. The organisation for which the data is being presented determines the types of layers that the data is organised into.

As Favier and van der Schee state, “Typical layers used in natural resource management agencies or companies include forest cover, soil classification, elevation, road network (access), ecological areas, hydrology” (2012, p. 673).

The data also has to be edited to suit the needs of the organisation from which it is being presented. Various types of editing are used in GIS. They are also dependent on the information being presented. After the stored data is edited, the next step that may be carried out is the retrieval and querying.

Data retrieval from the GIS system us aided by the command interfaces that are present in the software used. As Goswami et al. state, a different kind of retrieval may be done, with this being called querying (2012).

They proceed to explain that “Querying is the capability to retrieve data; usually a data subset, based on some user-defined formula, and these data subsets are often referred to as logical views” (Goswami et al. 2012).

After the data storage, editing, and retrieval subsystem, the next important subsystem in GIS is the manipulation and analysis subsystem.

Data manipulation and analysis subsystem

According to Mandel, the data manipulation and analysis subsystem “allows the user to define and execute spatial and attribute procedures to generate derived information” (2010, p. 245).

Many of the authors have defined this subsystem as the main difference between the GIS and other types of database information systems including the computer aided drafting (CAD) systems with some claiming that it is the heart of a GID (Goswami et al. 2012).

In this subsystem, spatial data is manipulated and transformed to logical sequence.

Some of the functions involved in the manipulation and transformation of this spatial data include the thinning of coordinates, edge mapping, interactive graphics editing, geometric transformations, and map projection transformations (Hassanein et al., 2012, p.46).

After the manipulation of the data, the next step in this subsystem is analysis.

Some of the functions that are primitive in analysis in GIS and should be provided include the Retrieval, Reclassification, and Generalisation, Topological Overlay Techniques, Neighbourhood Operations and Connectivity Functions (Hassanein et al. 2012, p. 47).

These are the final steps in the GIS before the data is presented to the parties interested in its use. In the presentation of this data, a special subsystem is used, and this is the data output and display subsystem. This issue will then be looked at in details.

Data output and display subsystem

The end user of the data presented in the GIS system need to view it in a logical easy to understand manner, and this subsystem allows this case to happen. The system displays graphics that the subsystem has generated, and these are the maps, the reports and information on the presented products.

This information will then be used to make decisions concerning the projects or any other function that the GIS system was designed purposely for.

The GIS is in this case used as a tool in decision-making (Mandel 2010, p. 256). There are various fields and uses that the GIS is put to use, and these will then be discussed with special considerations being made in each.

Uses of GIS

As indicated above, GIS has a number of uses in many fields, with construction and geographical fields finding more use for the same.

The first field that will be reviewed for this study is the education field, and the system has been of great use here. The combination and integration of GIS with multimedia is reported to have brought enormous benefits in the field of education (Gibson, Brennan-Horley, & Warren 2010, p. 340).

With the combination of the two, teaching the physical and geographical subject is more effective and efficient with the students learning faster compared with other traditional methods of teaching. This model has increased in popularity in major parts of the world.

“In this model, a teacher becomes a guide rather than a repository of facts” as Gibson, Brennan-Horley, and Warren (2010, p. 340) confirm.

Since the computer can repeat the information and display it infinite number of times, some scientists who describe people’s behaviour state that it is now like “an infinitely patient teacher”(Gibson, Brennan-Horley, & Warren 2010, p. 340).

The other field that the GIS is synonymous with is mapmaking, and almost every specialist in this field is trained on the use of this system. Some of the important uses of the GIS in mapmaking include site selection, making simulations of environmental effects and in the planning for any emergency response.

As Gibson, Brennan-Horley, and Warren state, “GIS can use and combine all layers that are available for an area in order to produce an overlay that can be analysed by using the same GIS” (2010, p. 340).

This advantage has made mapmaking to be easy and faster, with the accuracy and predictability of the procedures increasing over time. The GIS is therefore an important tool that cannot be wished away in mapmaking, and is the future of the field.

The other field that has found great application for GIS is the field of land information. Land information is important in the planning of land use and environmental preservation.

With the advent of GIS, land information, which includes the creation of data on land, the maintenance and management of the data, and the planning of land use (‘A Study of Geographic Information System Combining with GPS and 3G for Parking Guidance and Information System’ 2010) are now easy to manage.

As Sonmez and Uysal effectively state, “GIS makes input, updates, and retrieval of data such as tax records, land-use plan, and zoning codes much easier than during the paper-map era” (2008, p. 45).

Some of the major issues in land management is the maintenance of records, and any mistakes occurring here may be costly to the parties involved.

To prevent errors from occurring during the management of this information and to make its retrieval easier and faster, the GIS has become an important tool in land information management.

In this field, the GIS manages land registry for recording titles to land holdings, “preparing land-use plan and zoning maps, and cadastral mapping” (Sonmez, & Uysal, 2008, p. 45).

Some of the most important inputs of data into a land information GIS as Sonmez, & Uysal include, “political and administrative boundaries, transportation, and soil cover” (2008, p. 4).

The other use for which GIS has been put to is in the field of infrastructure and utilities. With the large number of projects that are coming up in all corners of the world, there has emerged the need to test and predict the stability of materials and the geographical areas where the utilities are being put up.

Planning is also a major part in the construction of these projects, as small errors may be costly to correct when not noticed early or avoided. GIS has therefore found application in this field with the exact uses being in the planning and management functions.

As Sonmez and Uysal state, “Typical uses include management of the following services: electric, gas, water, roads, telecommunication, storm sewers, TV/FM transmitting facilities, hazards analysis, and dispatch and emergency services” (2008, p. 45).

It therefore follows that some of the typical data input include “street network, topographic data, demographic data and local government administration boundary” (‘A Study of Geographic Information System Combining with GPS and 3G for Parking Guidance and Information System’ 2010).

The other area that GIS has been of great use is the environmental field. With the current emphasis on environmental preservation and mapping, GIS has come in handy for people targeting to manipulate the environmental features, and it helps them in the planning process.

Some of the uses in this field include simple inventory, complex decision-making spatial systems and map analysis (‘A Study of Geographic Information System Combining with GPS and 3G for Parking Guidance and Information System’ 2010).

Some of the inputs into an environmental GIS include the forest cover, the water cover, and quality of soils.

GIS has also found use in archaeology. In this field, the management of the data collected from the field is important with the presentation of the same requiring creativity and accuracy.

GIS is, therefore, used in the management of databases with the information on the archaeological sites and from this stored information, instant maps may be generates for the purpose of review or presentation. Some of the authors in archaeology acknowledge the utility of GIS in the field.

As Sonmez and Uysal state, “It has been implemented in cultural resource management contexts, where archaeological site locations are predicted using statistical models based on previously identified site locations” (2008, p. 45).

The tool has also been used in the recreation of the past to study the changes that have taken place in the environment over a period of time. In this process, the landscape is recreates and changes introduced according to the theories and mechanisms of change in the areas.

It is with the ability of GIS to present information in 3D that the training of archaeologists is possible in the institutions of learning.

Over the last century, a number of natural disasters resulted in the loss of thousands of life in different parts of the world, and these areas have resulted to disaster preparedness measures. Among the measures that have been put, great utilisation of GIS has been made where vulnerable areas are continuously monitored.

Disasters can also be predicted. As Sonmez and Uysal state, “Areas vulnerable to earthquakes, floods, cyclones, storms, drought, fire, volcano, landslides, soil erosion can be used to accurately predict future disasters” (2008, p. 45).

Not only has the systems helped in the prediction of natural disasters, it has also assisted in the environmental preservation efforts.

The application of GIS in forestry is one of these conservation measures, and forestry personnel can now use GIS to plot and demarcate the extents of natural forest cover to calculate the area under forest cover.

The information thus obtained is used to plan on how the remaining forests can be preserved, increased to the desired cover and the progress can be tracked.

One of the institutions that have led to the advancement of GIS over the last century is the military. The applications of GIS in military operations are in the defence and offensive operations, and the system is used to generate geographical information for planning of any operations.

In most of the recent wars that have taken place, the victor won based on preparation and adequate planning.

It is now possible for one nation to access the geographical information of another country through satellite imaging, and with this information, armies can plan attacks without the enemy being able to defend themselves.

With the change in climate and the global rises in temperature in the last century, the sea levels have become an important monitor. Most of the islands in the pacific and oceans elsewhere else in the world are at risk of being submerged in water as the sea levels rise.

This issue has prompted investment is methods of monitoring the changes in sea level. A number of methods have been used, but the most significant of these is GIS.

As Sonmez and Uysal state, GIS has been of help in the field as “enables study of sea level change, marine population, sea surface temperature, and coral reef ecosystem” (2008, p. 245). Other uses of GIS that have been documented include the monitoring of water resources.

In areas where the availability of safe drinking water is a challenge, this technology has been used to predict areas where drilling may be done to produce the safest water to drink.

Spatial representation of ground water sources, waste quality, watershed management “surface water management and water pollution” may be done through GIS (Sonmez, & Uysal, p. 35).

Another field is the field of agriculture, and for nations that are serious about their agricultural resources, GIS has become of use since they can monitor these resources.

GIS has application of data about a country’s agricultural system, and according to Gündogdu the data may include “information on the country’s land resources including physiography, soils, climate, hydrology, cropping systems and crop suitability” (2011, p. 35).

Several software gadgets by different companies provide Geographical information Services, which will be discussed with comparisons being made where necessary.

GIS software

Some of the major companies providing GIS software include ESRI, Autodesk, and Intergraph. ESRI produces ArcGIS. As Gündogdu explains, “ArcGIS is a scalable system for geographic data creation, management, integration, analysis, and dissemination” (2011, p. 35).

This software has been in the market for a number of years, and is used in architectural studies and other environmental fields. Some of the advantages that it has over the other software include the ease of use. The software is increasingly being updated each year, and the company has made millions in the sale of the same.

Many researchers and geographers have demonstrated knowledge in the use of the software, and some institutions offer lessons on its use. It has formed the basis of teaching in this field with recorded significant success.

The other software that is used in GIS is AutoCAD Map, which is manufactured by Autodesk. The company boasts of making millions of sales of the software in different parts of the world. It has equipped some of the weapon systems used by the United States military.

As explained by Gündogdu, “This software is for precision mapping and geographic information system (GIS) analysis in the AutoCAD environment. It has the special tools needed to create and produce maps and geographic information plus all the underlying functionality of AutoCAD” (2011, p. 35).

It stands out as one of the software that Autodesk has made in the field. The other one is the GIS design overly.

As previously designed, the use of GIS in mapmaking is now advanced, with the internet being a powerful companion tool. GIS overlay design has been developed by Autodesk to exploit the power of server technology.

It combines the mapping and design capabilities of AutoCAD “enabling access to enterprise geographic and design data via desktop, web, and mobile client technology” (‘A Study of Geographic Information System Combining with GPS and 3G for Parking Guidance and Information System’ 2010).

The last software that supports GIS is Geo Media Transportation that is a product of Intergraph.

This software according to researchers “provides dynamic segmentation and linear analysis capabilities for roadway, railway, waterway, pipeline, and transit system networks” (‘A Study of Geographic Information System Combining with GPS and 3G for Parking Guidance and Information System’ 2010).

They also state, “The software can retrieve business and project data required for analysis from virtually any Geographic Data Objects (GDO)-compliant data server within the enterprise, including Oracle, Microsoft Access, and ArcView shape files” (‘A Study of Geographic Information System Combining with GPS and 3G for Parking Guidance and Information System’ 2010).

Historical aspect

Geographical information as a science has its roots a number of centuries ago, and the pioneers of the systems used the simplest of materials to tell directions and guide people to certain locations. Mapmaking was therefore among the first of the components of GIS, as people sought to orientate themselves with their world.

The invention of photography led to the incorporation of the same in GIS, which gave the field the required boost. The improvements in map work led to the development of topographical maps, which were more accurate than the sketches that were drawn before them.

The developments in mathematics and physics also led to the expansion of the field. More people became interested in it.

With the global trade that developed in the Middle Ages, the art of geographical information systems was revolutionised with more sailors being able to sail in deep waters. This led to the discovery of new lands and opening wild areas for settlement and colonisation.

Some of the latest developments in the field include the presentation of the data in £ dimension, which made the data presented more accurate and informative. There was an improvement in the aesthetic value.

The new developments in geographical information systems led to the developments of other fields such as aviation and archaeology, with the professionals in these fields finding their work easier.

Currently, some of the uses that GIS is being put have contributed to the gathering of information about our planet. This is driven by the desire to relate to our environment and the universe.

Epidemiology was among the first fields that the GIS were put into practice. A French geographer created the first modern form of GIS (Gündogdu 2011, p. 35). The year was 1832, and thousands of deaths had taken place in the country because of a cholera outbreak in the city of Paris.

The genogram used GIS to depict the number of deaths that had taken place in the city, and he indicated the population that had been affected in the 48 districts of the city.

The information was crucial in convincing the authorities to act in speed. It also helped the medical practitioners to contain the breakout (Gündogdu 2011, p. 35).

Over 20 years later, a presentation of the number of people who had died from a similar outbreak in London was made (Gündogdu 2011, p. 33).The information gathered and presented in this version of the GIS was used to stop the outbreak.

The authorities along with the creator of the GIS followed the disease from the source, which had accurately been predicted. This also led to the halting of the outbreak and the people were warned of the causes of the cholera.

Photozincography was invented a century after the two incidences, and with this technology, the presentation of maps could be done in layers (Gündogdu 2011, p. 33). This principle has been used for over a century. It forms the basis of GIS in the new systems.

Developments in photography meant that the presentation of GIS could be made in the most convenient of forms and shapes.

Previously, before the invention of photography, the presentation of topographical information could be done on glass slides, and these were later changed for plastic films (Gündogdu 2011, p. 34).

Glass was brittle and consumed a lot of space in storage due to the multiple layers involved (Gündogdu 2011, p. 34). With the use of plastics being introduced later, the storage was reduced, and the material was more durable.

In the 21st century, the most important invention in related to the GIS is the computer hardware (Gündogdu 2011, p. 37). Soon after the introduction of computers, mapping was attempted with the use of these machines.

The first documented use of modern-day GIS was in Canada. It was utilised to store manipulate and interpret information concerning the forest cover (Gündogdu 2011, p. 35).

The future of GIS promises to be greater than at present due to the developments in other related industries and fields such as in computer engineering and software engineering. Some of the future aspects of GIS will therefore be discussed below.

Future of GSI

The technique has gained importance over the past few decades; there are still improvements with the software being updated every day. The industry is also large, earning economies billions of dollars in trade.

With the projected developments in the technology applied in GIS, the future systems promise to give more defined presentations of geographical information, and there are suggestions to have the input and analysis being digitally done.

With the improvements in the internet speed, connectivity and space, the costs of operating GIS are being reviewed downwards, and soon the technology will be available businesses and industries in all corners of the world.

Some of the changes that have taken place in the presentation of data in GIS include the inclusion of multiple dimensions. The future developments of GIS promise to increase the dimensions of time that are available during presentation.

With this development, Gündogdu states, “researchers will have the ability to examine the variations in Earth processes over days, months and years” (2011, p. 35). Another of the major advances that are taking place in the industries related to GIS is the computer industry.

It is reported that computer hardware and software that are advanced and state of the art are coming off the production line every day. These developments will assist in increasing the use of multimedia in GIS.

As Gündogdu states, “The advances in computer hardware, software, and remote sensing technology will lead to more and more GIS adopting multimedia to represent data” (2011, p. 35).

With this set to happen in the near future, powerful and richer presentations of ideas will contribute to the “development of ideas to stimulate interest and or enhance information retention” (Aimone, Perumal, & Cole 2013, p. 11).

As indicated above, the current trends in the information age is pointing to a future where every individual will be able to use all the complicated gadgets and technologies.

With GIS also taking the same course, the common person will have the opportunity to use the technology since it will be easy and more accessible (Aimone, Perumal, & Cole 2013, p. 12).

Some of the software that is being rolled out is meant to increase the speed accuracy and clarity of the data presented in GIS, which will make the future presentations to be as realistic as possible.


In conclusion, Geographical Information System is an important applied science that is fast becoming a necessary field. This tool has been used over the centuries to present data on geographical features. With the changes that have taken place over the last decade, the system is increasingly being adopted in other fields.

Some of the developments in GIS that have made it as powerful as it is today include the internet and the development of new and faster software. Traditionally, geographers and travellers mainly used GIS followed by rulers who wished to keep track of their kingdoms and annexed territories.

However, this discipline has expanded to gain use in other areas such as the military, archaeology, agriculture and construction. The future looks promising for the industry, with a number of software being produced to enhance and make the systems user friendly.

The major types of GIS that the articles reviewed stated include the four dimensional GIS, the web-based GIS, and virtual reality GIS, which constituted of other subsystems that made the whole system work effectively.

The types of data presented in the GIS have also been discussed. The manipulation that is done to each was also focused on.


Aimone, A, Perumal, N, & Cole, D 2013, ‘A systematic review of the application and utility of geographical information systems for exploring disease-disease relationships in paediatric global health research: the case of anaemia and malaria’, International Journal Of Health Geographics, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 1-13.

Al qeed, M, Bazazo, I, Hasoneh, A, & Al qaid, B 2010, ‘Using Geographic Information System to Visualise Travel Patterns and Market Potentials of Petra City in Jordan’, International Journal Of Marketing Studies, vol. 2 no. 2, pp. 144-159.

A Study of Geographic Information System Combining with GPS and 3G for Parking Guidance and Information System 2010, World Academy Of Science, Engineering & Technology, vol. 64 no. 1, pp. 418-424.

Brisaboa, N, Luaces, M, Places, Á, & Seco, D 2010, ‘Exploiting geographic references of documents in a geographical information retrieval system using an ontology-based index’, Geoinformatica, vol. 14 no. 3, pp. 307-331.

Favier, T, & van der Schee, J 2012, ‘Exploring the Characteristics of an Optimal Design for Inquiry-Based Geography Education with Geographic Information Systems’, Computers & Education, vol. 58 no. 1, pp. 666-677.

Gibson, C, Brennan-Horley, C, & Warren, A 2010, ‘Geographic Information Technologies for cultural research: cultural mapping and the prospects of colliding epistemologies’, Cultural Trends, vol. 19 no. 4, pp. 325-348.

Goswami, N et al. 2012, ‘Geographic Information System-based Screening for TB, HIV, and Syphilis (GIS-THIS): A Cross-Sectional Study’, Plos ONE, vol. 7 no. 10, pp. 1-8.

Gündogdu, C 2011, ‘Multicriteria Decision Analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)’, China-USA Business Review, vol. 10 no. 9, pp. 865-879.

Hassanein, M, Abdrabbo, M, Farag, A, Abolmaaty, S, & Khalil, A 2012, ‘Application of Geographic Information Systems to produce descriptive maps for Poultry Farms in Egypt’, Nature & Science, vol. 10 no. 3, pp. 43-48.

Helen, C 2012, Geographic Information Systems, n.p.: McGraw-Hill, London.

Ibraheem, A 2012, ‘Development of Large-Scale Land Information System (LIS) by Using Geographic Information System (GIS) and Field Surveying’, Engineering, vol. 4 no. 2, pp. 107-118.

Jalili, S, Hassanpour, J, & Mohammadi, M 2012, ‘Geographic information systems and evaluation tendency of managers in different areas in optimal use of this powerful software’, Interdisciplinary Journal Of Contemporary Research In Business, vol. 4 no. 7, pp. 250-258.

Macit, M & Gümrükçüoğlu, M 2012, ‘Determination of Industrial Sulfur Dioxide Emissions and Mapping by Geographic Information System’, Polish Journal Of Environmental Studies, vol. 21 no. 3, pp. 549-558.

Mandel, H 2010, ‘Geographic Information Systems: Tools for Displaying In-Library Use Data’, Information Technology & Libraries, vol. 29 no. 1, pp. 47-52.

Nahayo, A, Nsengumuremyi, C, & Ekise, I 2012, ‘Application of Geographic Information System (GIS) for mapping land use types in Musanze district, Rwanda’, Nature & Science, vol. 10 no. 11, pp. 163-167.

Pocewicz, A, Nielsen-Pincus, M, Brown, G, & Schnitzer, R 2012, ‘An Evaluation of Internet Versus Paper-based Methods for Public Participation Geographic Information Systems (PPGIS)’, Transactions In GIS, vol. 16 no. 1, pp. 39-53.

Ponce-Medellin, R, Gonzalez-Serna, G, Vargas, R, & Ruiz, L 2009, Technology Integration around the Geographic Information: A State of the Art, CogPrints, New York.

Socha, Y, Oelschlegel, S, Vaughn, C, & Earl, M 2012, ‘Improving an outreach service by analysing the relationship of health information disparities to socioeconomic indicators using geographic information systems’, Journal Of The Medical Library Association, vol. 100 no. 3, pp. 222-225.

Sonmez, R & Uysal, F 2008, ‘Geographic information system-based visualisation system for planning and monitoring of repetitive construction projects’, Canadian Journal Of Civil Engineering, vol. 35 no. 11, pp. 1342-1346.

This Report on Geographic Information Systems: A Review was written and submitted by user Zion Mcguire to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Zion Mcguire studied at Brigham Young University-Idaho, USA, with average GPA 3.2 out of 4.0.

Need a custom Report sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

301 certified writers online


Cite This paper

Select a referencing style:


Mcguire, Z. (2019, July 1). Geographic Information Systems: A Review [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Work Cited

Mcguire, Zion. "Geographic Information Systems: A Review." IvyPanda, 1 July 2019,

1. Zion Mcguire. "Geographic Information Systems: A Review." IvyPanda (blog), July 1, 2019.


Mcguire, Zion. "Geographic Information Systems: A Review." IvyPanda (blog), July 1, 2019.


Mcguire, Zion. 2019. "Geographic Information Systems: A Review." IvyPanda (blog), July 1, 2019.


Mcguire, Z. (2019) 'Geographic Information Systems: A Review'. IvyPanda, 1 July.

More related papers