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Adding More Information to Maps With GIS


GIS stands for Geographic Information System. GIS uses software to combine different sets of information as layers on a map.

Maps have come a long way since people first began drawings to show where they were. Modern maps are created using special software that combines lots of different sorts of information. This system of modern mapping is called GIS – Geographic Information Systems.

GIS is used by organisations, such as the Life Flight Trust, Kiwi Rail and City Councils. GIS allows organisations to;

  • access data
  • combine different data sets together
  • give graphical representations of data.

GIS allows a lot of different information to be shown on one map. Different layers or sets of information can be shown together or separately.

GIS helps people to;

  • analyse situations
  • write reports
  • track changes
  • make decisions
  • plan for the future, for example which roads are likely to be congested due to road works, closures or special events.

GIS requires four things:

  1. People: people who use GIS are professionals who have been educated to use GIS and have made a career out of working with GIS.
  2. Data: geospatial information (where things are located) and the details of objects such as services, roads, buildings etc. are collected and entered into the GIS software.
  3. Software: GIS software analyses data and presents it in different combinations for the user.
  4. Hardware: includes hand held devices for collecting data and computers with GIS software to display the GIS.

Data contained in a GIS system is stored in sets of data called ‘data sets’ in a database. Data sets can be selected, combined and presented as layers:

GIS Layers

Audio Māori keywords: 

If you were planning a school camp what information would you want to see on a GIS map of possible camping locations and where might you find this information?

GPS Global Positioning Systems

Topographic Maps


Within two hours of the February 22 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, Eagle Technology Ltd had a Christchurch Earthquake Incident Viewer up and running on the internet. This showed the public important information overlaid on to a map. Image: Eagle Technology Ltd.

This GIS shows building footprints in Wellington City. Image: Koordinates.


I wonder if a school should "GIS" itself

I wonder if a school should "GIS" itself. It could be good to geotag everything in a school so you could show and hide layers of things like sports equipment, teaching resources, data projectors, and computers. One day if things all has GPS embedded you could find them even when someone moved them.


it would be good for Kaniere's school sport shed.