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Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

Curious about GIS?

 
March 11th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

There is that word curious again. Used in other blog posts I’ve recently written. Its one of my favorite words. Curiosity often leads to discovery. I remember being at university in London when young and finding tides fascinating. My curiosity got the better of me and I spent chunks of a semester learning the intricate details of tides. The discovery process was wonderful.

I first discovered GIS when I came to live in America. It confused the bejesus out of me. But with perseverance (and countless classes) it began to make sense. Though GIS has become my career, my curiosity around GIS continues.

Curious about GIS?
It would seem more and more people are curious about GIS. Many used to (still do) mistake GIS for simple mapping technology. I notice more questions around “What is GIS mapping?” and “What is GIS used for?”. Increasingly there is realisation that much lies behind this technology. New ways to answer both simple and complex WHERE questions; as I like to say.

Uses of GIS? Think about this. You decide you’d like to open your own coffee shop in your town or city. Critical to your success is where you locate your new business. You’ll need to be positioned on a road. A road which has a high volume of traffic. Now when do people most often buy coffee? On their way to work. So your business will need to be located on the correct side of the road to attract commuters on their outward journey. Now, you could drive around looking for the perfect spot. That could be a time consuming painful exercise. Alternately you could use a GIS system. Everything in GIS starts with data. So for this example we will need traffic data (volume, and pattern), and available properties (there is more here but let’s keep things simple). With this data displayed on a map, you will begin to see potential locations for your new business. Suppose the available property you are looking for needs to be over a certain size? Run a GIS query which asks: show me all commercial properties over xyz sq ft in locations with high outward traffic volumes. Get it?

Sure GIS is good at mapping stuff. But think deeper. The real power of GIS is answering specific WHERE based questions. Both simple and complex. The answer to these questions can be displayed on a map, in a table, on a chart. GIS is unique. It is designed to answer any and all of your WHERE questions.

Next steps. Take your curiosity further and start discovering more. You will be amazed at what you find I promise.

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Categories: ArcGIS Online, cloud GIS, location data, Mobile ArcGIS, Mobile GIS, Web and mobile GIS

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