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A geographic information system (GIS) is a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data. It analyzes spatial location and organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes. ​With this unique capability, GIS reveals deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations—helping users make smarter decisions. 

What is GIS

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.

Identify problems

Use GIS to illuminate issues that are driven by geography. This map of opioid prescription claims reveals the geographic patterns that emerge when data is well-mapped.

View an opioid epidemic map

Monitor change

If a picture tells a thousand words, a map tells a thousand pictures. This map starkly reveals the extent of glacier retreat in the Southern Hemisphere.

Look at the Patagon Journal Memories of Ice map

Manage & respond to events

GIS delivers real-time situational awareness. This hurricane and cyclone map shows potential impact to people and businesses, probable track of storms, and storm surge.

Try the Hurricane and Tropical Cyclones map

Perform forecasting

Use GIS to forecast traffic. This map highlights challenges at an intersection in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, where forecasting shows traffic is expected to worsen based on land use changes.

Open the NKYmapLAB interactive map

Set priorities

GIS helps to set priorities based on spatial analysis. By analyzing crime patterns, public safety officials can identify target areas and assign officers in those areas.

Take a look at a crime response map

Understand trends

GIS helps you gain insight into data that might be missed in a spreadsheet. This map measures job growth or losses in different industries and quantifies local competitive advantage.

Try the shift-share analysis map

How GIS Works

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.