This Guide will give you some information about Geographic Information System (GIS) such as software, examples, useful websites, etc. in conducting research involving spatial-temporal data. Welcome to contact us if you would like to get advice or information in doing your research.
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What is GIS?
(Source: Esri China HK (2016), What is GIS?, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vv2c3Xb-OqU)
From National Geographic Society's entry, "geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth's surface. GIS can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables people to more easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships". (Source: National Geographic Society. (2012). GIS (geographic information system), http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/geographic-information-system-gis/)
As described by a GIS software company, Esri, in the resource page What is GIS?, a "geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends". (Source: Esri, What is GIS?, http://www.esri.com/what-is-gis/)
In general, GIS enables incorporation of digital maps to help user to orchestrate, analyze and visualize spatial stories. It can benefit researchers, entrepreneurs, policy makers and ordinary people in different ways:
GIS can conduct data visualization by mapping techniques. Data visualization facilitates storytelling which enables audience to easily locate, compare and understand our real life situations geographically. GIS has been applied in Humanities and Social Science to visualize and map out socio-economic phenomenon, such as income distribution, housing density and food consumption.
GIS can be used to pursue network analysis, like urban network analysis and social network analysis. For urban network analysis, GIS can help researchers to study road system, facility locations so as to improve route efficiency and city capacity. GIS is also applied in social network analysis, for example, exploring kinship network and analyzing social media network.
GIS can be used to perform geo-spatial-statistical analysis. With this, people can understand what is and what will be happening in the physical environment we are living in. Cost is saved and efficiency is enhanced by better spatial planning. For example, policy makers and urban geographers can propose better city models while the entrepreneur can improve services and cut fuel costs by better traffic scheduling.