Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the Internet
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A geographic information system ( GIS)
consists of hardware, software, and users to support the capture,
storage, retrieval, update, management, manipulation, analysis,
display, and modeling of geo-spatial data. Before GIS, researchers used
films and mylars to manually overlay spatial information. The
integration of spatial information with non-spatial attributes
(variable) is a critical component of a GIS. Many large complex tasks
are accomplished much more quickly by a GIS than by a human working
alone. A GIS is a “smart map” system linking databases to digital maps.
Several names, such as spatial information system, land information
system, natural resource management information system, planning
information system, and environmental information system, have been
used for GIS, giving a “high-tech” feel to spatial information.
GIS and related technologies are becoming more available to many users
in different disciplines through the World Wide Web. GIS and related
technologies will help greatly in the management and analysis of
worldwide data and allow better understanding of environmental and other processes around the world. Desktop GIS has been the system of
choice, but it has many limitations including high cost, high learning
curve, and limited public access of data. On the other hand, an Internet-GIS
(i-GIS), which focuses on distributed geographic information services
for the decentralization of geographic information management, has many
advantages including decentralized data storage, wider user access, and
convenience. The advent of the Internet and computer technology has
made it possible to share and analyze data through World Wide Web–based
management systems. The Internet and GIS have been used to download,
preprocess, review, modify, and analyze up-to-date geographic data
since the early 1990s. Although today’s Web-based systems offer an
excellent opportunity to use GIS beyond the home and office, existing
i-GIS map servers do not provide the complex analytical functionality
required by many users. Internet-GIS is becoming one of the most
rapidly evolving fields in e-commerce. For organizations and
institutions, i-GIS will provide easy access to GIS data with
Future GISs, including automated processing at offices and homes, will
likely be a part of our daily lives. When you walk into your house, the
system will know where you are and what kinds of things you might want
to do, such as turning on specific appliances or planning a trip using virtual environments.
A Brief History Of Geographic Information System
GIS technology, which began in the 1960s, has been one of the most
rapidly evolving fields during the past two decades. The Canada
Geographic Information System (CGIS) and the Urban and Regional
Information Systems Association (URISA) were developed in 1963, the
latter a nonprofit association using GIS technology in public works and
services and local and state planning agencies. The Harvard Laboratory
for Computer Graphics established in 1964 pioneered many aspects of
GIS. In 1965, Synagraphic Mapping System (SYMAP), an automated computer
mapping application system, was developed at the Northwestern
Technology Institute and at the Harvard Laboratory for Computer
Graphics. In 1967, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
developed an Automatic Mapping System (AUTOMAP), a map compilation
system at the global level. The establishment of several companies,
including the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) and
Intergraph Corporation in the United States and Laser-Scan in the
United Kingdom, initiated worldwide commercial applications. In the
1970s, several GIS programs and systems were established and the first
Landsat Multispectral Scanner (MSS) satellite (originally known as