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Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Getting Started

This guide helps you get started learning about GIS and how to find geospatial data.

What is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) store, query, analyze, process, and visualize geospatial data. They enable you to link graphical map objects (such as lines on a map) with tabular data (such as the names of roads represented by those lines). You can then perform various visualizations and analyzes based on these relationships. 

More information:

What is Geospatial Data?

It is any data that is spatially referenced to the Earth. 

The geospatial data usually contains:

  • Spatial data: where the data refers to
  • Attribute data: what is located there

Two common format types of geospatial data are:

What does GIS Software do?

With GIS software, users can overlay multiple data sets for the same geographic area and examine the spatial relationships between them. More information on GIS software available can be found in the Labs and Software tab.

Esri Video: What is GIS?

Want to Learn More?

Check out the Training Resources tab for more tutorials, handouts and online courses on GIS.