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Geographic Information Systems Services - what the heck does that mean anyway?
Ever been at a social gathering and have someone innocently ask 'what do you do'? Most answers are a couple of words - "I teach physics," "I make widgets," or "I'm a lawyer." Those of us who have careers working with GIS may find ourselves reaching out for a few more words to try and explain just what it is we do.
GIS has been described as a collection of software, hardware, people and data used to manage geographic information. It has also been described as a system to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, and present geographic data. It has been described as a decision-support tool for analyzing georeferenced information and additionally as a technological field that incorporates geographical features with tabular data in order to map, analyze, and assess real-world problems.
Will the real GIS please step forward?
When someone in a casual social context asks me what I do these days, I simply say 'I work with people who make maps with computers' - and while this answer is slightly 'cheating' because it leaves out all the potential, pitfalls and power of GIS - it satisfies the general question and immediate need for pleasant give and take conversation.
But left to my own devices without bumper sticker conversation constraints, as someone who has worked within the field of GIS for going on 20 years, how would I answer that question? Well, here is what I would say: GIS sings the song of our earth, a song that when sung clearly, everyone can understand and that evolves daily with our awareness and our technologies for transmitting information from one human to another. GIS paints the picture of the planet - it can tell us characteristics of people living in a particular place, how plants and animals are migrating, where natural resources exist, track the growth of dead zones in the ocean and find the nearest Pita Jungle restaurant. It is the geocentric lens that allows visualization of our awareness of that which surrounds us and ultimately defines us within the socio-environmental-economic context in which we exist.
Ah - but I wax poetic... Really, I work with people who make maps with computers. :-)
To see examples of our work, please refer to the projects page. If you are interested in having our group assist with your GIS needs, be they great or small, please contact us and we'll be happy to help.