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Components of GIS

Updated: Jan 26

Drawing of topography lines with text overlay 'Components of GIS'

Geographic Information System (GIS) is widely recognized as one of the most powerful tools for gaining valuable insights into our world. Its versatility and capability to provide a comprehensive view of an area are key factors contributing to its popularity. While local governments are among the most active users of GIS, its applications extend far beyond that.

For instance, farmers can leverage GIS to effectively plan their crops by analyzing soil composition, weather patterns, and optimal planting locations. Realtors, on the other hand, can utilize GIS to analyze market trends, identify prime locations for property investment, and even assess the impact of local infrastructure developments on property values. However, the applications of GIS don't stop there.

In fact, GIS empowers individuals across various industries to make informed and intelligent business decisions. Urban planners can use GIS to assess the impact of proposed developments on traffic patterns and environmental factors. Natural resource managers can employ GIS to monitor and protect fragile ecosystems. Emergency responders can rely on GIS to quickly identify evacuation routes and allocate resources during crises.

With its wide range of applications and ability to integrate data from various sources, GIS continues to revolutionize how we understand and interact with our world. By providing a holistic and detailed perspective, GIS enables us to make better decisions, promote sustainable practices, and ultimately shape a better future.

What is GIS?

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is defined as a computer system that analyzes and displays geographically referenced information. It is a powerful tool that integrates geographic data with computer technology to capture, store, manipulate, analyze and display data related to real-world locations. It allows users to visualize, question, interpret and understand data in ways that reveal relationships, patterns and trends in the form of maps, reports and charts.

What are the components of GIS?

A working GIS integrates five components: hardware, software, data, people, and methods. These fundamental GIS components form the foundation for users to analyze and visualize spatial data, enabling effective decision-making to address various challenges.


Hardware refers to the computer on which GIS data is stored and accessed. GIS requires specialized hardware to process large amounts of data. This also includes servers, storage devices, GPS receivers, and other peripherals. As technology advances, the hardware used for GIS has become more powerful and efficient in handling complex spatial data.


GIS software is the key element that enables users to manipulate, analyze and visualize data. It provides a platform for users to interact with and query geographic data, create maps and perform analysis. There are various GIS software options available in the market, each with its own unique features and capabilities. The type of software used depends on the specific needs and requirements of the user.


At the core of GIS lies data, both spatial and non-spatial. Spatial data refers to information that has a geographic location attached to it, such as coordinates or addresses. Non-spatial data includes attributes or characteristics of a location, such as population demographics or land use type. It is important for GIS to have accurate and reliable data in order for it to produce meaningful results.


Methods in GIS refer to the processes and techniques used to collect, manage, analyze and visualize data. This includes algorithms, formulas, statistics, and models that are predefined to each user. The methods used depend on the specific application and desired outcome.


While GIS is a powerful tool, it still requires skilled people to operate and interpret the data. GIS professionals, such as geographers, cartographers, and analysts, are experts in using the software and interpreting the results. They play a crucial role in utilizing GIS to its full potential.

How to Access and Use GIS Data

The integration of GIS components presents a unique opportunity to visualize and analyze seemingly unrelated information. By combining visuals, it allows for modern data analysis and it enables new understandings.

With LandGate's LandApp tool, GIS is taken to a new level. The capabilities of typical GIS tools are available plus many other features including ownership information, extensive resource data (solar, wind, and EV charging, to name a few), custom map creation, and more. Many landowners, land professionals, and commercial realtors use our tool daily to consistently beat out their competition and expand their knowledge of property.


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