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What is GIS?

A spatial system that creates, manages, analyzes, and maps all types of data

Graphic of a small pie chart and several colorful vertical line charts overlaid on a gray 3D mountain shape as a GIS layer stack depicting spatial data integration and analysis

A geographic information system (GIS) is a system that creates, manages, analyzes, and maps all types of data. GIS connects data to a map, integrating location data (where things are) with all types of descriptive information (what things are like there). This provides a foundation for mapping and analysis that is used in science and almost every industry. GIS helps users understand patterns, relationships, and geographic context. The benefits include improved communication and efficiency as well as better management and decision making.

How is GIS used?

Hundreds of thousands of organizations in virtually every field are using GIS to make maps that communicate, perform analysis, share information, and solve complex problems around the world. This is changing the way the world works.

How does GIS work?

GIS technology applies geographic science with tools for understanding and collaboration. It helps people reach a common goal: to gain actionable intelligence from all types of data.


Who uses GIS?

Modern GIS is about participation, sharing, and collaboration. Discover how the technology is strengthening relationships, driving efficiencies, and opening communications channels in your community.


National Geographic Explorers use GIS

Discover the power of geography in this series of video shorts by National Geographic and Esri, featuring National Geographic Explorers who are using GIS to map a better future.

Access the videos