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Links and FAQs


    Links to Other Sites about Geospatial Technologies » click here 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is GIS and how is it used?

    What is GPS and how is it used?

    What is RS and how is it used?

    Find out more online about ESRI.

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    What is GIS and how is it used? 

    Geographic Information System (GIS): A set of tools containing a system for collecting, storing, retrieving at will, transforming and displaying spatial data from the real world for a particular set of purposes (Burrough 1986). GIS is a spatial database and analysis system that utilizes many different technologies including global positioning systems and remote sensing. This system is very similar to other databases, except it adds a spatial component. Instead of just having tables of information, the data can be displayed spatially and many types of thematic maps can be generated from the same data set which enables people to make quicker, more informed decisions about real-world problems. GIS, and its associated technologies is one of the fastest growing technologies to emerge in recent years. Used in many different disciplines, GIS is expanding rapidly every day. Some of its applications include: land use planning, natural resource management, mapping tropical deforestation, environmental assessment and planning, tax mapping, emergency management, including the World Trade Center disaster, demographic and over-population research, spread of disease, utilities planning, and many business applications.

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     What is RS and how is it used?

    Remote Sensing (RS): The science and art of obtaining useful information about an object, area or phenomenon through the analysis of data acquired by a device that is not in contact with the object, area, or phenomenon under investigation (Lillesand, Thomas M. and Ralph W. Kiefer, "Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation " John Wiley and Sons, Inc, 1979, pp1.). This method of collecting spatial data uses a raster format and collects data at a distance (hence "remote"), usually from an aircraft, spacecraft, or ship. There are many different types of sensors that can be mounted on board these vehicles. These different sensors can collect data and measurements from many forms of energy, including; wavelengths from ultraviolet to radio regions, electromagnetic radiation, acoustic energy, and photographic images. This raster data is then processed through image processing software, where it can then be used in GIS in conjunction with spatial data.


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     What is GPS and how is it used?

    Global Positioning Systems (GPS): A satellite based navigation system that allows you to determine your location at any point on the earth's surface with a high degree of accuracy. GPS is a very powerful tool which receives information from a constellation of 24 satellites orbiting the earth. A GPS receiver is used to receive data from the satellites and calculate its position on Earth. This can be used for navigating, surveying, or data collection. These data are collected in a vector format (points, lines, and polygons) that is downloaded from the data collected, and can then be imported into a GIS system where the data can be displayed and analyzed.


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    Geospatial Links:
    ESRI: Better Decisions Through Modeling and Mapping Our World
    Developer of the most popular GIS software. Go to this website to learn about GIS, how it is used, and the types of software available.

    National GIS/GPS Integration Team: Main Page
    Site of the National GIS/GPS integration team. Learn more about GIS and GPS.

    For information and highlights on 2002's activities at the Geospatial Information Technology Internship, please visit the National GIS/GPS Integration Team Member News Page, and scroll down a few lines to see the activities in Maryland.

    Geography Matters : How GIS touches our lives everyday
    Interactive website, that shows how GIS influences your life and daily activities without us even being aware.

    Examples of GIS in different industries
    Interested in learning how GIS is used in Business, Communications, Defense, Education, Engineering, Government, Health and Human Services, Natural Resources, Transportation, or Utilities? Follow this link to ESRI's industry page and learn more about how different disciplines use GIS

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