Components of a GIS

A working GIS integrates these five key components: hardware, software, data, people, and methods.

H a r d w a r e
Hardware is the computer on which a GIS operates. Today, GIS runs on a wide range of hardware types, from centralized computer servers to desktop computers used in stand-alone or networked configurations.

S o f t w a r e
GIS software provides the functions and tools needed to store, analyze, and display geographic information. Key software components are

  • a database management system (DBMS)
  • tools for the input and manipulation of geographic information
  • tools that support geographic query, analysis, and visualization
  • a graphical user interface (GUI) for easy access to tools

    D a t a
    Maybe the most important component of a GIS is the data. Geographic data and related tabular data can be collected in-house or bought from a commercial data provider. Most GISs employ a DBMS to create and maintain a database to help organize and manage data.

    P e o p l e
    GIS technology is of limited value without the people who manage the system and to develop plans for applying it. GIS users range from technical specialists who design and maintain the system to those who use it to help them do their everyday work.

    M e t h o d s
    A successful GIS operates according to a well-designed plan and business rules, which are the models and operating practices unique to each organization.


    What GIS is
    Why is GIS important?
    GIS as a discipline and industry
    How GIS works
    GIS tasks
    Components of a GIS
    Related technologies
    What can GIS do for you?

    About GIS main page


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