The first attempt to answer this question was made in 1832 while marking the distribution of cholera cases per unit of population on a map. This is considered to be also the first attempt to analyze data in the context of spatial location, and this is a starting point for understanding a Geographic Information System (GIS).
For a long time the complexity of manual processing of a large amount of data limited the development of GIS, as well as any system essentially working with a huge array of data, but starting from 1960, with the introduction of computer graphics, the development of GIS picked up pace.
So, what is GIS nowadays used for? The main question remains the same: “Is there any spatial dependence in my data?”
While accumulating thousands of records of road accidents or crimes, maps of street lights and billboards, maps of networks and pipelines, we are not still able to visualize the “whole situation” and answer the following questions:
- Where does one or another event take place?
- Why? What’s located nearby? Why there? How often?
- How should I respond?
In leading companies there are ingrained GIS that assist with logistics and infrastructure development tasks. But the set of problems to be solved by GIS is not limited to these tasks; here are some examples from completely different spheres and industries:
- Agriculture – so-called precision agriculture that completely relies on GIS – calculations of fuel costs, yield forecast, early detection of problems, and fertilizers application maps
- Military sphere – dynamics analysis of changes on satellite images, automatic recognition of enemy forces changes
- Security – location and fields of view of closed-circuit television cameras; systems integrated with an interactive map of a guarded area with detailed plans of floors and ventilations – what we have seen only in action movies is not fiction anymore
- Law and order – statistical analysis of violations and road accidents, crime scenes analysis from the point of view of possible actions of offenders and discovering possible witnesses
- Telecommunication – schemes of main channels, cell tower coverage maps that take terrain features and buildings into account
- Microbiology – so-called macro-GIS, a comprehensive analysis of conditions and behavior statistics is important here too
- Transport and logistics – with traffic maps and navigation features that are familiar to everyone, as well as more complex solutions for calculating service areas of warehouses and finding optimal routes
- Meteorology – where GIS was applied in all its glory, allowing analyzing the causes of various weather conditions, and making predictions with unprecedented accuracy
The list can be continued, but it is important to understand that GIS principles can be implemented in every sphere dealing with spatial indices. After all, finding spatial dependencies in data or data analysis considering its spatial components — these are all tasks associated within the scope of modern GIS solutions.
DataArt has started a competence center dedicated to all previously mentioned themes and to other tasks related to visualization of various data. Specialists of the center have extensive experience in working with such enterprise-level systems as ESRI ArcGIS™, ERDAS and MapInfo.