Quick introduction to Geographic Information Systems

Quick introduction to Geographic Information Systems

For some years it has been observed the use of Geographic Information Systems in commercial applications because

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) systems have been improved in the course of time and they now count with a wide variety of functionalities. Learn more about this.

For some years it has been observed the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in commercial applications because they offer an interesting added value for the final user of the system.

Probably the most popular case is Google Maps, since it was used in many applications, for its dissemination, easy to use and free service for geographic locations or multiple locations. This functionality by its own is key in most systems that currently work with locations (we can’t imagine a social network, a real state web site, or a site for booking hotels without a map that shows locations).

Geographic Information SystemsIn this context, GIS systems have been improved in the course of time and they now count with a wide variety of functionalities and complementary tools that make them very powerful.

This new capabilities open a new area for their use in applications, though now a days they are not exploited. This lack of use of the new capabilities of GIS systems is related to the lack of knowledge about the real potential of this systems and the added value they can provide.

From this boom different alternatives emerge, both local and public, from where the developer has to analyze which is the more convenient for the system to be implemented.

Possible uses of Geographic Information Systems

Nowadays there are many possible uses for these systems such as:

  • Environmental impact
  • Addressing to get from one point to another
  • Calculations on different terrain elevation
  • Mastery of agronomy to maximize the yield of the land
  • Support for mobile devices
  • Calculate distances and times between points
  • Sampling of real-time traffic
  • Support for user interaction with the maps
  • 3D Views
  • Dividing the maps into regions to associate each one with a special behavior. For example, to define regions of the city of Buenos Aires and show the responsible for garbage collection in the different regions of the city.
  • Criminology (may be taken as an example the map of insecurity in the province of Buenos Aires)

These are some of the possible uses for which you can use a GIS system and optimize the interaction between the user and the application. To this uses we can add others that meet specific user requirements.

Different Alternatives

Geographic Information Systems

Above, we mentioned that there are several alternatives in terms of GIS systems. Probably the most known is Google Maps, but also there are other tools that provide a similar service or software packages to have our own GIS server.

But…Why having our own GIS server when we have tools that provide the same service such as Google Maps? Basically the answer lies in fact that, if we use our own server, we have complete control of our data (create them, eliminate them and modify them), the services that we can provide and of the maintenance, while with an existing tool we are “limited” to the API they provide for users.

Among the most popular GIS systems we find:

  • Google Maps, of Google Inc.
  • Bing Maps, la apuesta de Microsoft`s bid
  • PostGIS + MapServer + OpenLayers (OpenSource software package that work together to provide a GIS solution)
  • SQL Server Spatial

We won’t go into depth in each of these solutions because the objective of this post is to introduce the GIS subject and its benefits when used in commercial applications. Later we will delve into each of these alternatives to present them and provide examples along with the appropriate code to learn more of the potential of each system.


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