What is GIS?
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are how the Map Nerd goes from being a run-of-the-mill map nerd to TMN: The Map Nerd.
GIS involves combination of disciplines, and while cartography is the most recognizable, the underpinnings and power of GIS lays in statistics and relational databases. Specialized GIS software provides an environment to combine all three, enabling the Map Nerd to drill down and reshape your data to uncover the story of the math.
At its simplest, GIS functions like transparencies on an overhead projector, where each piece of the map — such as state borders, rivers, roads, and cities — all have their own transparent layer. Then, GIS software links a custom database linked to the layer, the Map Nerd uses that data and overlay to easily show the true value for each piece.
Think of it as the difference between looking at a list of each U.S. state’s population, or seeing a detailed map of the U.S. with colors associated with the population level. Not only is the map easier to read and understand, but you can easily recognize patterns and get a more holistic view of a population.