How GIS Mapping Software Works
Geographic information system (GIS) mapping software is versatile, powerful, and is valuable to any organization that works with geographical data. Think of a GIS mapping software platform as a many-layered onion. Geographic maps form the core on which you can add layers of data to work with and analyze. The software integrates with many different data types -images, features, and base maps linked to tables and spreadsheets, to name just a few.
When you can understand, visualize, and share GIS data, the result is actionable intelligence at your fingertips.
The software, rooted in the science of geography, uses data to analyze spatial location and other layers of information. GIS mapping software performs complicated analytical functions to let you visualize the data through maps and 3-D scenes. When you can understand, visualize, and share GIS data, the result is actionable intelligence at your fingertips.
Types of GIS Mapping Software
With so many GIS mapping software applications on the market, how do you know which product to select and where to start? Let’s look at the different types of GIS software.
- Desktop GIS. Desktop platforms are robust options for creating, editing, analyzing, visualizing, and managing geographic data. These are fairly complex programs, so becoming a master of the entire software program can take years of practice. You can start with a certain problem you need help to solve and learn how to use the desktop GIS system to address that particular problem. This piecemeal approach allows you to learn the desktop version by developing specific skills and building upon them as you complete more projects.
- Server GIS. A server GIS system has the highest barrier to entry and the steepest learning curve. Generally, server solutions excel at large-scale mapping solutions and targeted niche tasks. A spatial database features datasets that are large and encompass scenarios in which multiple people must access and edit the data at the same time. Software companies design server GIS solutions for large enterprises with offices in multiple locations.
- Web GIS. GIS, like all information handling and distribution platforms, has been revolutionized by the internet. Before web-based GIS platforms existed, creating maps and visualizations was largely handled by GIS experts. Now, web GIS applications allow non-expert GIS users to interact with map visualizations in live time in order to answer their own questions and prepare 3-D representations that can be shared with others. Web GIS systems use a point and click functionally that lets you create GIS maps in minutes. As long as you have internet connectivity, a web-based GIS mapping software platform also lets you access your projects from anywhere, anytime, using any device.
What to Look for in GIS Mapping Software
You may have already known for a while that GIS is a powerful tool, but perhaps you thought it was too expensive or too complicated to use. With web-based GIS mapping software, it’s easy and accessible for anyone to create compelling and engaging interactive maps. And, you can share those maps with anyone, anywhere -all in a matter of minutes.
Some web platforms actually outperform desktop GIS programs, yet are simple enough to use that someone on your sales team can create detailed maps with no prior training.
When evaluating web-based GIS mapping software platforms, look for one as powerful as a desktop version. Some web platforms actually outperform desktop GIS programs, yet are simple enough to use that someone on your sales team can create a detailed map with no prior training.
You will also want to look for a GIS program that lets you create something so focused and refined, it’s self-explanatory. Your audience should not need training to understand your finished presentation. When you have data that’s worth sharing, you want to create a visual message that others can easily use. Your map should provide your end users with enough visual information to learn something by interacting with your map.
You also want to work with 3-D files like LiDAR data in your GIS program. LiDAR (light detection and ranging) is a remote sensing method using laser light to sample the Earth’s surface. It produces highly accurate measurements that you can use to manage, visualize, analyze, and share data using a compatible GIS mapping software program.
Finally, look for a GIS mapping software solution that works for your application needs. You want one that a variety of industries and organizations successfully use to communicate, drive efficiencies, and strengthen relationships.
GIS mapping software can help you implement a global mapping, analytics, and reporting program that lets you efficiently share spatial data and information with others.
For example, if you are a telecommunications company, GIS mapping software can help you speed up response times and share maps with customers to improve communication. It can also help you make better decisions based on critical relationships found in massive datasets.
Or, let’s say you are in the petroleum industry. GIS mapping software can help you implement a global mapping, analytics, and reporting program that lets you efficiently share spatial data and information with others. You can also use it to enhance your subsurface workflows and improve exploration and surveillance.
Advantages of GIS Mapping Software
When you choose a GIS mapping software platform, you can expect:
- Improved decision making. Decisions are easier due to specific, detailed information about one or more locations.
- Reduced costs and increased efficiency. Maintenance schedules, fleet movements, and scheduling timetables will be easier to manage.
- Improved communications between departments and stakeholders. Everyone can easily understand visual 3-D maps.
- Easier record keeping. You can easily track and record changes in geographical information.
- Improved workflows. Knowing what has already occurred and anticipate what will occur in a geographic space helps you plan better workflows.
Deploying a web-based GIS mapping software solution can significantly improve your company’s operations, regardless of your industry.
When looking for a GIS mapping software program, you will want one that lets you:
✓ Create visualizations using point coordinates, area, height, vertical distance, and more.
✓ Assign assets, towers, and damages to projects.
✓ Integrate other data into your maps.
✓ Create, share, and collaborate with your team and stakeholders.
✓ Perform critical data processing and analysis to make better business decisions.
✓ Lower the barrier to data access across your entire organization.
Deploying a web-based GIS mapping software solution can significantly improve your company’s operations, regardless of your industry. The key is finding the right platform with the right features and benefits at the right cost.