What is Geographic Information Science?

Geographic Information Science (GISci) is a basic foundation for constructing connected digital platforms, from which investigators can acquire, analyze and display spatial data, while interpreting relationships which result in significant geographic patterns.  GISci can be an important tool for students majoring in Geography, Biology, Atmospheric Science, Geology, Sociology, Political Science, Economics, Environmental Studies, History, Economics, Business, Computer Science and many other disciplines.  After graduation, students with a GISci background can find employment in a variety of careers related to natural resource conservation, urban studies, demographic analysis, economic location analysis, public works, weather/climate forecasting, environmental studies, disaster response, military, regional planning or archaeology, just to name a few. The basic skill sets are learned in introductory and advanced classes in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Remote Sensing (RS) and Cartography.

Cartography teaches the basics of spatial data acquisition and analysis and how to display the resulting geographic patterns by producing precise and well-designed maps.

Geographic Information Systems are used worldwide to assemble, store and manipulate information in an accurate geographic coordinate system.  GIS software allows construction and geo-referencing of any number of map “layers” containing a variety of digital information.  The patterns on the layers can be analyzed in a variety of ways, to produce mapped results of the interrelationships between data.

Global Positioning Systems use a satellite-based system for determining accurate location and timing information on objects/areas of interest to a variety of practitioners.  GPS data can be used for creating a base for GIS maps or can be used to add location information on objects/areas of interest for research or applied purposes.

Remote Sensing allows data acquisition from satellites or aerial photographs, in a quick, cost effective manner.  Data received remotely can be referenced to information in other map layers in a Geographic Information System, analyzed and the output displayed in map form.


A Moment in Geography: Transferring Elevation

In this short episode of A Moment in Geography, students use a level and rod to transfer elevation from a known point to unknown points. This particular exercise is part of the Field Methods course (GEG 3875) taught by Jim Riley in the Department of Geology/Geography at Eastern Illinois University.