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GIS, What is it?

GIS is the acronym for a tool referred to as a Geographical Information System. Often used as a buzzword, GIS is a powerful tool now widely used by all disciplines involved with the management of resources.

Simply put, GIS is a system composed of complex and expensive computer equipment, software, data and trained personnel capable of assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying geographically referenced information. GIS integrates database operations with the unique capability of putting this information onto a map. With this system complex questions can be answered through analysis of multiple map layers.

Recently, due to advances in technology, the cost of GIS has decreased dramatically. The sophisticated GIS software can be used on personal computers, rather than a main frame, which was commonly used for GIS during its infancy. In the past all base map data had to be manually derived by digitizing paper maps, or compiled by organizations that specialized in map data. Today, once the basic map components are acquired, a skilled GIS analyst can query the system to provide answers to complex questions including those related to all the regulations, constraints and public concerns of natural resources.

GIS can work interactively with emergency response systems that notify the law enforcement authorities nearest a crime and also notify the nearest fire response units or emergency help in almost any situation. Many communities and counties are looking at using this new technology to improve their emergency response systems.

Emergency crews can have maps printed immediately to identify the quickest route to the location. GIS also provides timely information on ownership changes and improvements to roads and bridges that are valuable to counties and the services they provide to the public. Updating map information can be done quickly and can be readily available to all users who have access to the system.

Most topographic maps are now digital and can be purchased on CD’s, which allows a person to print the exact location wanted and not the entire USGS topographic map.

Northwest Management, Inc. has the GIS capabilities to map and respond to the complex resource issues that forest owners face in today’s environment. Give us a call. Take a look at our product and let us know if we can provide GIS answers to your questions.

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