Geographic Information System and its type

Geographic information system

Geographical Information System (GIS) is a decision support system, which has various characteristics of information system. The main difference between Geographic Information System (GIS) and other information systems is that the information stored and processed by GIS is geocoded, geographic location and attribute information related to the location become an important part of information retrieval. In GIS, the real world is expressed as a series of geographical elements and phenomena, which are composed of at least two parts: spatial reference information and non-location information.

The definition of a geographic information system consists of two parts. On the one hand, GIS is a discipline, an emerging interdisciplinary subject that describes, stores, analyzes, and outputs spatial information theory and methods; on the other hand, GIS is a technical system based on the Geospatial Database, provide a variety of spatial and dynamic geographic information in a timely manner for geographic research and geographic decision-making with geo-model analysis methods.

Geographic information system has three characteristics:

Firstly, it has the ability of collecting, managing, analyzing and exporting many kinds of geographic information, which is spatial and dynamic.

Secondly, spatial geographic data management is supported by computer systems, and computer programs simulate conventional or specialized geographic analysis methods to act on spatial data, generate useful information, and accomplish tasks that are difficult for human beings to accomplish.

Thirdly, the support of computer system is an important feature of Geographic Information System (GIS), which enables GIS to quickly, accurately and comprehensively locate and dynamically analyze complex geographic systems.

The appearance of Geographic Information System (GIS) is computer software and hardware system; but its connotation is a geospatial information model organized by computer programs and geographic data. When users with certain Geoscience Knowledge use geographic information systems, the data they face are no longer meaningless, but abstract the objective world into modeled spatial data. Users can observe all aspects of the real world model according to the purpose of application, obtain the information of natural process analysis and prediction, and use it for management and decision-making. This is the meaning of information system. A logically reduced and highly informationized geographic system simulates the functions of the geographic system from visual, metrological and logical perspectives, the flow of information and the results of information flow are simulated entirely by the operation of computer programs and the transformation of data. Geographers can extract the spatial and temporal characteristics of different aspects and levels of geographic system with the support of geographic information system. They can also quickly simulate the evolution of natural processes or the results of thinking processes, obtain the results of geographic prediction or “experiment”, and select optimization schemes for management and decision-making.

Geographic Information System and 4M

For geographers, city planners, resource managers, and other people using geographic information, they observe and measure environmental parameters and maps to describe the characteristics of the Earth; they monitor changes in the surrounding environment and build models of processes and activities that affect the environment. These four activities (4M) can be improved and improved by applying GIS technology.

Type of geographic information system

Geographic information systems can be divided into three categories according to their content:

1) Thematic Geographic Information System (Thematic GIS) is a geographic information system with limited objectives and professional characteristics, serving specific special purposes. For example, forest dynamic monitoring information system, water resources management information system, mining resource information system, crop estimation information system, grassland resource management information system, soil erosion information system, etc.

2) Regional Information System (regionalGIS), which aims at comprehensive regional research and comprehensive information services, can be of different scales, such as regional information systems at the national, regional or provincial, municipal and county levels serving different administrative levels; also can be a regional information system based on natural zoning or watershed units. Regional information systems such as the Canadian National Information System and the China Yellow River Basin Information System. Many practical geographic information systems are regional thematic information systems between the two, such as the Beijing Soil and Water Loss Information System, the Hainan Island Land Evaluation Information System, and the Henan Winter Wheat Estimation Information System.

3) GIS tools or GIS Tools is a set of software packages with basic functions of graphic information digitization, storage management, query retrieval, analysis operations and multiple output. They are either specially designed or developed, or after the completion of the practical geographic information system, the geometric data of the specific region or topic is extracted, which has strong adaptability to computer hardware, high efficiency in data management and operation, and strong function, a universal and practical information system can also be used as GIS teaching software.

The establishment of regional or thematic geographic information system with the support of general geographic information system tools can not only save the manpower, material and financial resources of software development, shorten the period of system establishment and improve the technical level of the system, but also make the technology of geographic information system easy to popularize, and enable geoscientists to devote more energy to the development of high-level application models.

Composition of geographic information systems

Similar to common information systems, a complete GIS consists of four parts: computer hardware system, computer software system, geographic data (or spatial data) and system management operators. The core part of the system is computer system (software and hardware), spatial data reflects the geographical content of GIS, while managers and users decide how the system works and how information is expressed. The system structure is shown in Figure 1-4.


Composition of geographic information systems

Computer hardware system

A computer hardware system is a general term for actual physical devices in a computer system, which can be an electronic, electrical, magnetic, mechanical, optical component or device, and is a physical enclosure of a GIS.The scale, accuracy, speed, function, form, usage and even software of the system have a great relationship with the hardware and are supported or restricted by hardware indicators. Due to the complexity and particularity of its tasks, GIS must be supported by computer equipment. The basic components that make up a computer hardware system include input/output devices, central processing units, memory (including main memory, auxiliary memory hardware 3), etc., which work together to provide the necessary information to the computer system to complete task; Save the data for current or future use; provide the results or information processed to the user. Figure 1-5 shows a common computer peripheral that implements the input and output functions.


Computer standard peripherals and peripherals used in GIS

Computer software system

Computer software system refers to all kinds of necessary programs. For GIS applications, which usually includes:

1) Computer System Software

Programming system provided by computer manufacturer, which provides convenience for users to use computers, usually includes operating system, assembler, compiler, diagnostic program, library program, maintenance manual and program description, etc., which is necessary for the daily work of GIS.

2) GIS software and other supporting software

Including general GIS software package, can also include database management system, computer graphics software package, computer image processing system, CAD, etc., to support spatial data input, storage, conversion, output and user interface. The functional structure of the GIS software package is shown in Figure 1-6.

3) Application analysis program

It is a program developed by a system developer or user for a specific application task based on a geographic topic or a regional analysis model, and is an extension and extension of the system function. With the support of GIS tools, the development of applications should be transparent and dynamic, independent of the physical storage structure of the system, and continuously optimized and expanded as the level of application of the system increases. The application acts on the geographic topic or regional data to form the specific content of the GIS, this is the part that users are most concerned about for real geographic analysis and the key to extracting geographic information from spatial data. Most of the user’s work on system development is to develop applications, and the level of the application largely determines the application’s pros and cons and success or failure.


Functional framework of GIS software

System development, management and use of personnel

Human is an important component of GIS, which is different from a map, but a dynamic geographical model. Only the hardware and software of the system and the data can not constitute a complete geographic information system, which requires people to organize, manage, maintain and update the system, expand and improve the system, develop the application program, and flexibly use the geographic analysis model to extract a variety of information for research and decision-making services. For qualified system design, operation and use, GIS professionals are the key to the application of GIS, and strong organization is the guarantee of system operation. A well-planned geographic information system project should include project managers responsible for system design and implementation, information management technicians, system customization application engineers and end users of the system.

Spatial data 4

Natural, social and human economic landscape data referring to the spatial location of the earth’s surface can be graphics, images, text, tables and figures. It is input into GIS by the builder of the system through digitizer, scanner, keyboard, tape machine or other system communication, which is the object of system program function and the substantive content of the real world expressed by GIS through model abstraction. In GIS, spatial data mainly include:

1) Position in a known coordinate system

That is, the geometric coordinates, which identify the spatial position of the geographical landscape in the natural world or in the map containing a certain area, such as latitude and longitude, plane rectangular coordinates, polar coordinates, etc., the digitizer input angle usually uses digitizer rectangular coordinates or screen rectangular coordinates.

2) Spatial relationship between entities

Spatial relationships between entities usually include: metric relationships, such as distance between two objects; extension relationships (or orientation relationships), which define the orientation between two objects; topological relationships, which define the connectivity and adjacency between objects, which are the most basic relationships in GIS analysis, including the pivotal relationship between network nodes and network lines (Fig. 1-7-a), and edges, constitutive relationship between boundary and surface entity (Fig. 1-7-b), including relationship between surface entity and island or interior point (Fig. 1-7-c), etc.


Several typical topological relationships

3) Properties independent of geometric position

The so-called non-geometric or abbreviated attributes are geographical variables or geographical meanings associated with geographic entities. Attributes are divided into qualitative and quantitative, the former includes name, type, characteristics, etc., the latter includes quantity and grade; qualitatively described attributes such as soil type, administrative division, etc., quantitative attributes such as area, length, land grade, population size, etc. Non-geometric attributes are generally abstracted concepts, obtained by classification, naming, measurement, and statistics, any geographic entity has at least one attribute, and the analysis, retrieval and representation of the geographic information system are mainly realized through the operation operation of the attribute, therefore, the classification system and the measurement index of the attribute have a great influence on the function of the system.

Three views on GIS [Maguire, 1991]

There are three viewpoints on the definition of GIS: map, database and spatial analysis. The definition of map point of view focuses on the content related to cartography, so GIS is regarded as a map analysis and processing system; the definition of database point of view focuses on the perfection of database design and implementation; a complex database management system is regarded as an integral part of GIS; the definition of spatial analysis point of view focuses on analysis and modeling, GIS is regarded as a spatial information science and not just a technology.


is also commonly referred to as memory and external storage.


In the following, “geographic data” and “spatial data” will no longer be distinguished, they all serve the same concept.