Geographical Information Systems

Jane Mueller, Division Director

Second Floor
Administration Building
701 Minnesota Ave. NW Ste 219
Bemidji, MN 56601-3178

218-333-8457, 218-333-8447 email

Monday-Friday 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Geographical Information Systems, often referred to as GIS, are an organized collection of computer hardware, software, geographic data, and personnel designed to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze and display all forms of geographically referenced information. It can also be described as a computer system capable of holding and using data describing places on the earth's surface and digital database development and distribution.

For any application, there are five general questions that a GIS can answer:

1.What is at a particular location?

2.Where is it?

3.What has changed since a specific date?

4.What spatial patterns exist?

5.What if.....?

GIS is not simply a computer system for making maps, although it can create maps at different scales, in different projections, and with a variety of colors. A GIS is an analytical tool. The major advantage of GIS is that it allows you to identify the spatial relationships between map features.

A GIS does not store a map in any conventional sense. Instead, a GIS stores the data from which you can draw a desired view to suit a particular purpose. The database concept is central to a GIS and is the main difference between a GIS and drafting or computer mapping systems. All contemporary GIS incorporate a database management system.

A GIS gives you the ability to associate information with a feature on a map and to create new relationships that can determine the suitability of various sites for development, evaulate environmental impacts, calculate harvest volumes, identify the best location for a new facility, and much more.