GIS: the Digital Link Between Maps and Information

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You may be surprised to learn how much geography matters in our everyday lives. The ability to link maps digitally to information enables us to visualize and understand patterns and relationships around us. Geographic information systems, or GIS, provides this link.

GIS describes a wide variety of computer-aided tools and services that capture, store, check, and display information related to positions on Earth’s surface. You probably use GIS every day without realizing it. When you use a smartphone to get directions or to find the closest restaurant to your location, you're tapping into the power of GIS. Here at NOAA, GIS is used to map oil spill trajectories, plot the paths of historic hurricanes, view and analyze nautical charts, and understand trends in areas such as sea level change and coastal socioeconomics. Analysts and scientists also use GIS for land use planning, business applications, scientific research, and even as a tool to aid in our nation’s defense.

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