A geographic information system (GIS) is a system that creates, manages, analyzes, and maps all types of data. GIS connects data to a map, integrating location data (where things are) with all types of descriptive information (what things are like there). This provides a foundation for mapping and analysis that is used in science and almost every industry. GIS helps users understand patterns, relationships, and geographic context. The benefits include improved communication and efficiency as well as better management and decision making.

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Hundreds of thousands of organizations in virtually every field are using GIS to make maps that communicate, perform analysis, share information, and solve complex problems around the world. This is changing the way the world works.


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Identify problems
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Monitor change
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Manage & respond to events
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Perform forecasting
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Set priorities
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Understand trends
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Use GIS to illuminate issues that are driven by geography. This map of opioid prescription claims reveals the geographic patterns that emerge when data is well-mapped.

View an opioid epidemic map


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If a picture tells a thousand words, a map tells a thousand pictures. This map starkly reveals the extent of glacier retreat in the Southern Hemisphere.

Look at the Patagon Journal Memories of Ice map


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GIS delivers real-time situational awareness. This hurricane and cyclone map shows potential impact to people and businesses, probable track of storms, and storm surge.

Try the Hurricane and Tropical Cyclones map


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Use GIS to forecast traffic. This map highlights challenges at an intersection in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, where forecasting shows traffic is expected to worsen based on land use changes.

Open the NKYmapLAB interactive map


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GIS helps to set priorities based on spatial analysis. By analyzing crime patterns, public safety officials can identify target areas and assign officers in those areas.

Take a look at a crime response map


GIS helps you gain insight into data that might be missed in a spreadsheet. This map measures job growth or losses in different industries and quantifies local competitive advantage.

Try the shift-share analysis map


GIS technology applies geographic science with tools for understanding and collaboration. It helps people reach a common goal: to gain actionable intelligence from all types of data.

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Maps are the geographic container for the data layers and analytics you want to work with. GIS maps are easily shared and embedded in apps, and accessible by virtually everyone, everywhere.
GIS integrates many different kinds of data layers using spatial location. Most data has a geographic component. GIS data includes imagery, features, and basemaps linked to spreadsheets and tables.
Spatial analysis lets you evaluate suitability and capability, estimate and predict, interpret and understand, and much more, lending new perspectives to your insight and decision-making.
Apps provide focused user experiences for getting work done and bringing GIS to life for everyone. GIS apps work virtually everywhere: on your mobile phones, tablets, in web browsers, and on desktops.

Who uses GIS

Modern GIS is about participation, sharing, and collaboration. Discover how the technology is strengthening relationships, driving efficiencies, and opening communications channels in your community.


Explore the evolution of GIS from a rudimentary tool to a comprehensive platform for designing a smarter world.

Discover the power of geography in this series of video shorts by National Geographic and baoboitoithuong.com, featuring National Geographic Explorers who are using GIS to map a better future.

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