Your GIS – the unknown being

Well … many people doesn’t care about what a GIS is. Many of them do not even had any contact with that kind of software. Nevertheless there surely are a lot of people which could use it for their advantage.

But one after the other!

GIS is the abbreviation for Geographic Information System. Such a software is always used where information is related to a geographic point or area (geospatial data). These systems were originally used to represent pipelines or buildings in the industry or real estate sector. With the development of the systems they could also be used for planning projects and give some strategical evidence. Systems like GE Smallworld GIS were classic representatives for the group of asset management, which can today be used for strategical use or support as well. A system like Grass was born in research. Developed by the US Army, it has a lot of tools for working with bitmaps (e.g. air photographs). The main use of these systems points out that there are several GIS for different use. On one hand you have a verctor-based approach with bitmaps just for orientation. On the other hand you have high-resolution bitmaps with information for every pixel and vectors and new bitmaps only as an result of complex queries.

Smallworld as a commercial product comes along with a great expense factor. Licenses and support are not cheap. Instead of that youget an very professional system which accomplishes nearly every wish one could have. The rest can be programmed! šŸ™‚ OpenSource and freeware can even be interesting for you, because of the great amount of mature functions and the possibility to connect the GIS with a free and capable database system. And that works even, if you have a lot of data and maps.

With one of the next posts I will go more in depth.

A GIS usually comes along with a grafical workbench, called a gui. The user or admin can use this to handle the systems and it’s functions. A lot of the systems have an AddOn or connection for a webbased desktop. Smallworld comes with a standalone webservice other systems can be connected to the UNM mapserver.
Every system works with an internal or external database (e.g. Oracle, PostGIS, MySQL) to manage the alphanumeric data. But it has not to be a real database. Some systems work with ESRI shapefiles or GML/XML-files. It’s difficult to connect to Smallworlds internal database system from outside the GIS. Other systems use external database systems like PostGIS and Oracle spatial. At the point where a number of users should use the same data, the system should be a client-server-application to devide data (backend) and application (frontend).

The next posts bring hints and approaches to the interested reader — hopefully you — to point out the differences between the systems.

For every company with geospatial data there is a great benefit to have a closer look at these systems for making the work with their data more easier. No existing database has to be thrown away and no data has to be kept redundant. With a clever integration the freind of MS Access can still use its queries and reports. And VBA programmed macros can also be used after it. The other users get a noticeable surplus in terms of increased efficiency. Even if I always use this term related to computers with an unpleasant feeling. (Quote: “Computers help us with problems, we would’nt have without them.”)

If you have a look at the so called geomarketing [in engl. it’s Business GIS but it doesn’t mean exactly the same] you should find no serious company which has no GIS — maybe it’s integrated into their reportingtool(s). But later more …


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