Skip to Main Content

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

This guide is for UBC Library Geospatial Services and Resources.

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 analyses based on these relationships. 

GIS allows you to layer or overlay multiple sources or types of data into a single visualization, whereas in a traditional cartographic document this would not be possible.

More information:

What is Geospatial Data?

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

The geospatial data usually contains:

  • Spatial data: Data that refers to geographic locations or features that can be pinpointed in space on a map
  • Attribute data:Data that quantifies or describes a spatial area or it’s features. This differs from spatial data in that it does not refer to a specific place, but rather things associated with that place.

Two common format types of geospatial data are:

Books on GIS