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A Brief Introduction to GIS

What is Geographic Information Systems (GIS)?

There are many definitions of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). A simple one is that GIS is a computer application with the capacity to assemble, store, manipulate, analyze, and display geographically referenced information. Here are other more elaborate definitions and introductions to the subject.

What GIS is not

  • GIS is not a digital map (a digital map is only one of the outputs of a GIS)
  • GIS is not a graphic design tool like Photoshop or PaintShop Pro
  • GIS is not computer-aided design (CAD). Although some CAD software can act as GIS software, generally, the two are different.
  • GIS is not Global Positioning System (GPS). Although GPS can be a part of GIS, on its own it is not a GIS
  • GIS is not always a replacement for maps or cartography

GIS Instruction Information

GIS Software Producers

GIS Software at the University of Toronto Library

Autocad and GIS

Most GIS data can be translated and converted into Autocad format. The University of Toronto has a site licence for FME translation software that can make these conversions quite simple. Contact marcel.fortin@utoronto.ca for more details. It should also be noted that Autocad data can be read in most GIS software.

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Updated June 27, 2005 ©2005 University of Toronto Map Library