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Geographic Information System (GIS) and Digital Scholarship Research: GIS Software & Tools

GIS software

There are various GIS software programs widely used by academics:

Developed by Esri, ArcGIS software is a well-known and trusted GIS software. Currently they are having the ArcGIS Pro software with various applications, webapp, ArcGIS Online, and provides an online platform called StoryMaps which allows users to create simple maps for displaying their projects.  PCs in Digital Scholarship Lab in University Library provides the software for use, while CUHK community who are in need in using the software for research or study can contact DSLab for assistance.


Google Earth/Google Earth Pro

Developed by Google Inc., Google Earth/Google Earth Pro perhaps is the most well-known GIS software across the globe.  Google Earth displays satellite images onto a 3D globe and users could explore geographical information with an oblique angle. Users can also create their own maps by creating custom image overlays and establishing links to images, videos and articles. With Google Earth, users can view the up-dated images of the disaster-stricken areas. They can even zoom on Mars and Moon and below the ocean.


Another free and open source GIS software that can be used on Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD platforms.



GRASS GIS is a free and open-source software used for geospatial data management and analysis as well as creating maps and spatial modeling.  It can be used to manage raster and vector data. Unlike ArcGIS, it can support most of the computer operating systems, such as Mac OS X. Linux and BSD. GRASS GIS is particularly popular among the US government agencies, such as NASA, NOAA as well as some green consulting firms. The software is available at Digital Scholarship Lab as well.


Other kinds of GIS software:

StoryMaps, Story Maps, Story Map...


For the GIS software vendor esri, they have two StoryMaps platform for use:

  • ArcGIS StoryMaps is for organizations and subscribers.  It presents stories with maps applying web ArcGIS. The Story Maps Gallery lists out some excellent practices of GIS projects in different disciplines.
  • is for personal use


Developed by the Northwest University Knight Lab, StoryMapJS is a free online tool for story-telling with a focus on geographical locations of a series of events. StoryMapJS comes in two variants: Classic and Gigapixel. The former one works with standard web maps, enabling you to add slides and rich media for every place of your story while the latter one enables users to tell stories with the use of artworks, historic maps and high-resolution photos. 



MyOSMatic is a free online tool that uses OpenStreetMap data as basemap to let users making their own maps.  The maps generated can be downloaded in PNG, PDF and SVG formats for printing.

Introduction to StoryMapJS