Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems

Paula Cristina Remoaldo (University of Minho, Portugal), Vitor P. Ribeiro (University of Minho, Portugal), Hélder Silva Lopes (University of Minho, Portugal), and Sara Catarina Gomes Silva (University of Minho, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7359-3.ch023
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The emergence of technological systems with computerized cartographic application allowed the resolution of certain military problems between the 1950s and 1960s. The first GIS was created in Canada Geographic Information Systems in 1964 for Tomlinson. At this time, GIS was in a consolidation phase in multiple areas and for various purposes. The geographical science growth with the development of GIS were in connection to the subject of the new geography, justified by the application of the methods of quantitative analysis in various spatial nature of research. In this context, the GIS feature a number of operational advantages and have allowed the proliferation of new fields of endeavor in open access systems across multiple forms of acquisition, management, interpretation, and spatial information analysis. The main goal of this chapter is to underwrite the concept of GIS, as well as distinguish the diversity of applications from the past until the present, and to identify new paths to accommodate recent scientific approaches with extensive range of application possibilities.
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One of the main challenges of the 21st century are caused by the large amount of geospatial information through a GIS. Throughout time there have been many attempts to define Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Yet there is no consensus on define it and restrict it to one definition is limited. In the acronym - Geographic Information Systems - the geographic refers to the Earth's surface and near-surface, therefore, all human production and activity, and non-human are possible spatialization in GIS.

GIS is recognized as an analytical and decision-making tool with many uses in different fields. Likewise it is used in many industries plus commercial, education or government. It is powerful for

  • Land administration,

  • Statistical mapping,

  • Transport,

  • Network and environment management,

  • Remote sensing images,

  • Water/waste management,

  • Maintenance and management of public lighting,

  • Regional and urban planning,

  • Tourism planning,

  • Healthcare planning, and in

  • Crime and security management.

In broad terms GIS is a special class of information systems that keep track not only of events, activities, and things, but also their location. Computerization has opened a vast new potential in the way people communicate, analyze our surroundings and take decisions. The available data represent layers of the real world that can be stored, processed and presented later to answer future needs (Bernhardsen, 2002).

In the process of acquisition, processing and spatial representation there is the involvement of a multiplicity of inputs and outputs that can be managed on databases, which invariably seek analytical and graphical spatial embodiments. In the graphical display, vector or raster elements can be chosen, depending on the degree of specificity of the database and the type of expected results.

These databases can be collected at different scales and using a plurality of data types, including population census, aerial photography or satellite imagery. It allows to address multiple operating phases of the planning management process in a multiscale perspective with the challenge to meet more effective and efficient solutions. Due to this, nowadays it is frequently used as a spatial decision support system (SDSS) (Crossland, 2005).

Well-designed GIS should be able to provide a good computer system, because traditional GIS are intended to users operating on local servers. Traditionally GIS includes hardware and software. The hardware are the physical parts of the computer itself and associated peripherals (e.g., plotters and printers); and the software is interoperable, supporting the many data formats (in the infrastructure life cycle) and implementation may be custom-designed for an organization.

Even so a GIS can have two types of groups typically called as “GIS carries” and “GIS users”, which are respectively responsible for the management and analysis. The heart of GIS technology is the ability to conduct spatial analysis, overlay data and integrate other solution and systems. Geoprocessing operations facilitate to link or merge data, spatial characteristics of data; search for particular characteristics or features in an area, update data quickly and cheaply and model data assess alternatives (maps, graphs, address lists, reports and summary statistics) tailored to meet particular needs.

Nonetheless GIS feature a number of operational advantages and have allowed the proliferation of new fields of endeavor in open access systems across multiple forms of acquisition, management, interpretation and spatial information analysis. This can be seen in the first item of the present paper where the background and GIS starting point is explored. The main goal of this paper is to underwrite the concept of GIS evolution and to identify new paths to accommodate recent scientific approaches with extensive range of application possibilities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Web-Based GIS: Web-based GIS is based on a type of distributed information. This set of technological services is part of a communication structure between the GIS server and the client. Their relationship is expressed through URLs (created by the server) and HTTP (for the customer). Spatial data access, advanced mapping and spatial analysis are the most common type of analysis options in Web-based GIS.

GIS: GIS is a system that permits to visualize, analyze, display and understand the relationships between spatial phenomena. Nowadays, GIS is capable to transform large numbers of data, to analyze and transform momentarily alternate data and generate charts, graphs, summary and descriptive statistics. Among the main key elements to a noble GIS it is noted: computer hardware and software, operational context (people and organizations) and internet service.

Crowdsourcing: Crowdsourcing is an act of performing a GIS task by a user on a voluntary basis for a set of users. This type of action is based on a bottom-up approach. It is associated with the creation of data through a group dynamic. The crowdsourced data collection is carried out using portable devices (GPS, PC, mobile phones) and the data is synchronized in the central database, accessible and shareable, based on services and maps on the web.

Pace-Time: Space-time is suggested in Hägerstrand time-geographic framework. Presents and analyses the individual activities in time and space dimensions. In GIS environment results in the spatial representation of the dimension x and y and temporal dimensions of time in hours, minutes or seconds. The space-time patch is used for the implementation of the daily trajectory of the individual in time and space.

Augmented Reality: Augmented Reality (AR) into GIS assures the link between the perception of user and the relationship with the real world. The real world is represented with 2D and 3D virtual information. The computer augments the actual landscape with additional information that can be supported by inserting fields based on GIS applications.

GIS in the Cloud: GIS in the cloud or cloud GIS bases on the integrated web systems. The data generates maps to support the analysis and optimization of real time operations. The cloud integration helps the organization of complex workflows and maintaining extensive geodatabases.

Real-Time: Real-time is a term often used to describe the time of execution of a task. This tool helps the users to obtain a frequently monitoring and more efficiently. GIS technology enables the sharing of a series of real-time data. Among the main features is visualization, analysis and understanding of phenomena in reduced timescale.

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