GIS software are computer programs that allow users to explore, edit, and analyze geographic data. These software can be used for a variety of purposes, such as mapping land use, surveying infrastructure, and managing natural resources.
There are a number of different GIS software out there, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. It can be hard to decide which software to buy, especially if you’re not familiar with the different options.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular GIS software and help you decide which one is best for your needs.
What is GIS Software?
A GIS, or Geographic Information System, is a type of software that allows users to create and analyze maps. A GIS can be used for a variety of purposes, including land management, urban planning, disaster response, and environmental analysis.
Applications GIS Software
GIS software has a wide range of applications across different industries and fields. Here are a few examples of how GIS software is used:
Urban Planning and Development: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for land use planning, zoning, and infrastructure development.
Environmental Management: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for natural resource management, conservation, and environmental impact assessments.
Emergency Management: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for emergency response planning and management.
Agriculture and Forestry: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for crop management, irrigation, and forestry management.
Transportation and Logistics: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for transportation planning, route optimization, and logistics management.
Mining and Geology: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for mineral exploration, mining operations, and geologic hazard assessments.
Energy and Utilities: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for energy resource management, power grid management, and water resource management.
Health and Demography: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for public health, epidemiology, and demographic analysis.
Real Estate and Property Management: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for property management, appraisal, and land use planning.
Market Analysis and Marketing: GIS software can be used to create maps and analyze data for market analysis, customer segmentation, and targeted marketing.
These are just a few examples of how GIS software can be used, but it’s possible to use GIS software in many other fields as well. GIS software allows users to combine and analyze different types of data, such as demographic, environmental, social, and economic data, to make informed decisions, solve problems and to make informed decisions, solve problems and gain insights that would not be possible by looking at the data in isolation.
Limitations of Using GIS Software
While GIS software has many advantages and can be used in a wide range of applications, there are also some limitations to using GIS software. Here are a few examples:
Data Quality and Availability: GIS software relies on accurate and up-to-date data to function properly. If the data is incorrect, incomplete, or out of date, it can lead to inaccurate or misleading results.
Technical Expertise: GIS software can be complex and require a certain level of technical expertise to use effectively. Users need to be familiar with the software, its tools and functions, and data management in order to use it effectively.
Data Integration: GIS software typically works best when data is in a specific format and structure, integrating data from different sources can be challenging and may require additional processing.
Computational Resources: GIS software can require significant computational resources, such as memory and processing power, especially when working with large datasets or complex models.
Cost: Some GIS software can be expensive to purchase and maintain, and may require additional hardware and software to run effectively.
Limited Automation: GIS software is not always able to automate all tasks, some processes might still require human input, leading to errors or delays.
Limited ability to handle certain types of data: GIS software is not always able to handle all types of data, such as sensor data, social media data, etc.
Limited ability to handle real-time data: GIS software is not always able to handle real-time data, and may require additional tools or software to support real-time data processing and visualization.
It’s important to keep in mind that these limitations can vary depending on the specific software and its capabilities. It’s always recommended to research and compare different options before making a decision to choose the best software that fits your needs and budget.
Types of GIS Software
There are many GIS software options available, both free and paid. Here are a few examples of popular GIS software in each category:
Free GIS software
- QGIS: A popular, open-source GIS software that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- GRASS GIS: Another open-source GIS software that offers advanced geospatial data management and analysis capabilities.
- OpenJUMP: A Java-based open-source GIS software that can handle large datasets.
- gvSIG: A free and open-source GIS software for desktop and mobile devices.
- uDIG: A Java-based open-source GIS software that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Paid GIS software
- ArcGIS: Developed by Esri, ArcGIS is a powerful GIS software that offers a wide range of tools and capabilities for working with spatial data.
- MapInfo: A GIS software developed by Pitney Bowes that offers advanced mapping, analysis, and data management capabilities.
- AutoCAD Map 3D: A GIS software that is part of the AutoCAD family of products and can be used for creating and editing maps and analyzing spatial data.
- Global Mapper: A GIS software that offers advanced analysis, data conversion, and 3D visualization capabilities.
- GeoMedia: A GIS software developed by Hexagon that offers advanced spatial data management and analysis capabilities.
It is worth noting that many of the paid software have a free trial version that allows you to test the software before purchasing it.
The choice of GIS software depends on the user’s needs, their level of expertise, and the type of data they work with. Some software are more suitable for a specific task or industry, it’s always important to research and compare different options before making a decision.
ArcGIS is a commercial Geographic Information System (GIS) software developed and maintained by Esri. It is used for creating and working with maps, analyzing spatial data, and creating geographic information.
It allows users to create and edit maps, perform spatial analysis, and manage data.
ArcGIS is available in several different versions, including ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Online, and ArcGIS Pro, each with varying levels of functionality and pricing.
ArcGIS Desktop is the full-featured version of the software, which includes a wide range of tools and capabilities for creating, editing, and analyzing geographic data, including:
- support for vector and raster data,
- tools for spatial analysis,
- support for various map projections and coordinate systems,
- data management tools and
- support for various data formats and data sources.
ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based version of the software, which allows users to access and create maps, perform spatial analysis, and manage data from any device with an internet connection.
ArcGIS Pro is a modern, 64-bit, multi-threaded desktop GIS application that provides professional 2D and 3D mapping, data management and analysis capabilities.
ArcGIS is widely used in various fields such as urban planning, environmental management, agriculture, and transportation. It’s also used by government agencies, private companies, and academic institutions for a wide range of applications.
Esri, the company behind ArcGIS, provides extensive training and support resources, including tutorials, user guides, and online training courses. ArcGIS is also integrated with other Esri products, such as ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Server, to provide a complete GIS solution.
Terms & Features Used in ArcGIS
ArcGIS is a powerful GIS software developed by Esri that offers a wide range of features for working with spatial data. Here are some common terms and features used in ArcGIS:
ArcMap: The main application for creating and editing maps, analyzing data, and performing other GIS tasks in ArcGIS.
ArcCatalog: A companion application for browsing and managing data in ArcGIS.
Layer: A collection of features, such as points, lines, or polygons, that can be displayed and analyzed in ArcGIS.
Feature class: A collection of features in a GIS data model, such as points, lines, or polygons.
Geodatabase: A database that stores and manages spatial data in ArcGIS.
Shapefile: A common file format for storing vector data in ArcGIS.
Raster: A digital image represented by a grid of cells, each containing a value or color.
Topology: The spatial relationships between features in a GIS, such as adjacency or containment.
Geoprocessing: The process of analyzing or manipulating spatial data in ArcGIS.
Geocoding: The process of converting addresses to geographic coordinates.
Spatial Analyst: A toolset for performing advanced spatial analysis in ArcGIS.
3D Analyst: A toolset for working with 3D data and creating 3D maps in ArcGIS.
Network Analyst: A toolset for analyzing and modeling transportation networks.
QGIS, also known as Quantum GIS, is a free and open-source Geographic Information System (GIS) software. It allows users to view, edit, and analyze geospatial data on various platforms such as Windows, Mac, and Linux.
QGIS supports a wide range of data formats, including shapefiles, geotiffs, and PostGIS, and can be used to create maps, perform spatial analysis, and manage data.
QGIS has a user-friendly interface and a wide range of tools and features, including:
- Vector and raster data editing tools
- Support for spatial analysis and modeling
- Support for various map projections and coordinate systems
- Support for various data formats and data sources
- Support for plugins and extensions to add additional functionality.
QGIS is a powerful tool for visualizing and analyzing geospatial data, and is widely used in various fields such as urban planning, environmental management, agriculture, and transportation. It’s also a great tool for students and researchers who want to learn about GIS and spatial analysis.
QGIS is actively developed and supported by a large community of users and developers, and new versions are released regularly with updates and new features.
Terms and Features Used in QGIS Software
QGIS (Quantum GIS) is a popular open-source GIS software that offers a wide range of features for working with spatial data. Here are some common terms and features used in QGIS:
Project: A collection of layers, maps, and other data that can be saved and opened in QGIS.
Layer: A collection of features, such as points, lines, or polygons, that can be displayed and analyzed in QGIS.
Vector layer: A layer that contains vector data, such as points, lines, or polygons.
Raster layer: A layer that contains raster data, such as a satellite image or a digital elevation model.
Feature: A discrete element in a layer, such as a point, line, or polygon.
Attribute: Additional information about a feature, such as its name or population.
Style: The visual appearance of a layer or feature, such as its color, size, or symbol.
Symbol: A graphic or icon used to represent a feature on a map.
Legend: A list of the layers and features in a map, along with their corresponding symbols.
Map view: The main window in QGIS where maps and layers are displayed.
Layer tree: A list of the layers in a map, along with their visibility and order.
Table of contents : A list of the layers in a map, along with their visibility, order and other properties.
Data source manager : A tool for browsing and connecting to different types of data sources, such as shapefiles, databases, or web services.
Spatial query: The process of selecting features based on their spatial relationship to other features.
Geoprocessing: The process of analyzing or manipulating spatial data in QGIS.
Georeferencing: The process of linking a raster image to a coordinate system.
Plugins: Additional tools and functionality that can be added to QGIS.
Field Calculator : A tool for calculating new values for attributes based on existing values or mathematical expressions.
Bookmark Manager : A tool for saving and organizing map extents and locations.
Print Composer : A tool for creating and printing maps and other documents from QGIS.