Remember those multi-layered images of the human body from middle school science class, showing the body's skeletal system, nervous system and so on? GIS is similar. It layers 20th century geographical maps - of streets, buildings, neighborhoods, even subterranean infrastructure - using 21st century technology.
GIS technology works by linking information stored in databases to a place or location. Users can question the data and present the answers in maps, tables and other graphic representations. Since 80% of all information has a geographic component, the power of GIS can be widely used to support decision-making and problem solving across all sectors - public, private, and nonprofit.
More than Maps
Not just maps - GIS is the great integrator. With it, you can relate different information - like population trends or economic indicators - and reach conclusions about those relationships. GIS simplifies and improves how we see and analyze information.
For example, when you're looking for a home to buy, there are certain things you want to know: How big is the yard? What school district is it in? Is it in a safe neighborhood? Using a GIS, you can see all these things and more, at the same time. You can compare property taxes, drive-time to amenities, elected officials, and crime rates. All the things that go into making a better decision about where to live can be made simpler by using GIS.