A Geographic Information System uses computers and software to leverage the fundamental principle of geography – that location is important in people’s lives. It is a tool for managing information according to where it’s located. There is currently a shortage of qualified professionals to fill GIS related positions ranging from engineers to telecommunications experts. GIS is one of the most important components in approaching global problem solving. It helps us look for patterns in both the man-made and natural worlds. People in business, government, education, and natural resources are using GIS to analyze markets, manage parcels of land, conduct research, and protect natural resources.
Geography is the study of place and space. Geographers are interested in examining where things are located on the earth, why they are located where they are and how places differ. Geographers are also fundamentally interested in the interactions between people and the spaces they occupy.
There are two primary branches of geography: human and physical geography. Human geographers examine the spatial aspects of human existence: how people use their space, how they modify space, how human activities are distributed across space. Human geographers work in the fields of urban and regional planning, transportation, marketing, real estate, tourism and international business.
Physical geographers study patterns and distributions of the physical processes of the earth, such as climate, land forms, vegetation, soils, and water. Physical geographers work in areas of climatology (weather forecasting), land and water resource management. Many human and physical geographers have skills in cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Geographers also study the linkages between human activity and natural systems. According to the American Association of Geographers (AAG), "geographers were, in fact, among the first scientists to sound the alarm that human-induced changes to the environment were beginning to threaten the balance of life itself." Geographers study the impact of issues such as global warming, desertification, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, groundwater pollution, and flooding.
What is GIS?