Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

GIS is an integrated collection of software and data used to visualize and organize geographic data, conduct geographic analysis, and create maps.

Need Help?

Contact the Geospatial Data Librarian if you need any GIS help or advice:

  • setting up your project
  • choosing software
  • finding and processing data
  • doing analysis
  • dealing with errors

Send basic questions via email or make an appointment for a consultation.

Geospatial Services at Baruch

Are offered through the library's Graduate Services Division

What is GIS?

GIS is an integrated collection of software and data that visually organizes information around the concepts of geographic location and place. GIS can be used for geographic analysis, map making, database management, and geospatial statistics. GIS can be applied to many applications in several fields of study. You can use GIS to:

  • Study the distribution of populations
  • Study physical features of the earth and natural phenomena
  • Find the optimal location for starting a business or locating an event
  • Identify markets to target
  • Identify geographic patterns like clustering
  • Determine the best routes or paths to follow
  • Tie together separate pieces of data to create new information
  • Create maps

QGIS Screenshot

Basic GIS Principles

  • Geographic features are stored in individual GIS files. These files are the raw materials for geographic analysis and map making
  • GIS files are georeferenced, which means features are drawn to scale and tied to actual places on the earth via coordinate systems and map projections
  • Since coordinate systems and map projections are standardized, GIS data from many sources can be shared
  • GIS files come in several different formats; they can represent continuous surfaces (raster) or discrete geometry (vector)
  • GIS software is the tool / window for viewing, analyzing, and manipulating GIS data
  • Data tables that are place-based can be converted into GIS data by either plotting the table data using latitude and longitude or by joining table data to GIS features using a common ID code

About This Guide

This guide was originally created and maintained by Prof. Frank Donnelly, Geospatial Data Librarian, now at Brown University as of Feb. 2021.