GIS is the spatial science that logically arranges geographic information in different layers. GIS technology allows planners and GIS professionals to interpret solutions to spatially related problems.

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What can a GIS do?

GIS is useful for local governments in that it enhances the ability to produce geographic data in graphic and non-graphic form, creates accurate and timely maps, and improves the ability to interpret mapped data. Analysis is easier and more detailed, the availability and distribution of public information is improved, updating maps is more efficient, the ability to assemble spatial data is improved, and policy formulation is facilitated. Furthermore, a municipal GIS can answer questions about location, condition, trends, patterns, and modeling.

  • Location – Finds out what exists at a particular location. A location can be described in many ways by using lot number, address, zoning district, etc.
  • Condition – A GIS can display location at which certain conditions are satisfied, such as all parcels in current use with frontage on a Class V or better road.
  • Trends – This feature addresses changes over time and may involve both location and condition of particular areas.
  • Patterns – GIS can be used to demonstrate any spatial patterns that may exist, such as community health problems in relation to the proximity of a pollution source.
  • Modeling – “What if….?” questions can be answered through GIS and help to evaluate the effects of new zoning amendments or other changes in town regulations.