A Geographic Information System (GIS) "integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information." (ESRI)
What is GIS used for? There are many applications, spanning a wide variety of disciplines. Some examples include:
- Biological Sciences: migration patterns, species diversity, fisheries management
- Health Sciences: epidemiology, noise pollution
- Historic Geographic Analysis: slave revolt in Jamaica, Stanford Geospatial Network Model of Ancient Rome
- Digital Humanities
- Emergency Services: wildfire spread, missing person location, least-cost paths to accident sites
- Environmental Sciences: soil/groundwater contamination, drainage networks, erosion,pollution
- Social Sciences: crime rates, food deserts, population dynamics, education
In the boxes below, you will read about who creates it, its limitations, and how to evaluate data -- all considerations as you try to find statistics and data to support your research project.
As you dig in, it can help to start with a research question and a geographic focus. For example, "How do inoculation rates impact influenza rates in Pennsylvania?"