About Geographic Information Science

Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is synthesizing spatial theory, methods and technologies used to study and map geographic interrelationships, distributions, networks, temporal change and other spatially aware information, in order to better understand and manage limited earth resources.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - A comprehensive system for managing spatial data, with an integrated set of tools for querying, analyzing, and displaying that information. Some important classes of GIS tools include those that support:

  1. Logical map overlay, integrating multi-layer data sources in an analysis
  2. Proximity analysis and spatial buffering
  3. Network analysis (e.g. of roads or streams)
  4. Geocoding and address-matching
  5. Three-dimensional surface modeling

GIS technology is rapidly gaining popularity as a means of dealing with all sorts of information stored on maps. Visit the National Geographic Society for an expanded definition of GIS.

Remote Sensing - Analysis of the earth's surface and interpretation of its features using imagery collected from air or space platforms. Image processing methods use visible and nonvisible (e.g. ultraviolet and infrared) parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to interpret land cover patterns of vegetation, soil, land use, and environmental systems, including up-to-the-minute changes in these systems. With new satellite platforms going up every year, with increasing richness in spatial and spectral detail, this technology is becoming an essential tool for geographic information scientists. Meet the CSU GIS Specialty Center Remote Sensing Committee.

CartographyThe art and science of making maps. An important methodological arena for geographic information scientists is communicating the results of studies. Cartographical theories and methods focus on information content, symbolization and design to get the correct message across.

Global Positioning System (GPS) - Provides a means for determining earth location and navigation, using a constellation of formerly military GPS satellites and the technology for interpreting their signals. Field data collection for GIS and Remote Sensing projects is increasingly dependent on GPS.