Wisconsin Coastal GIS Applications Project

What is GIS?


[Coastal GIS Applications Home] [LICGF Home] [UW Sea Grant Home]

Definition of a Geographic Information System (GIS)

A system of hardware, software, data, people, organizations, and institutional arrangements for collecting, storing, analyzing, and disseminating information about areas of the earth.
Requisite functionality for a GIS consists of: 1) the ability to create, edit, and delete geographically structured data; 2) the ability to link locational and attribute data; 3) the ability to perform spatial analysis functions, including analytical map overlay of multiple data themes and network analysis; 4) the ability to display geographic information. Geographic data editing and network analysis are both facilitated by use of a topological data structure that describes objects as points, lines, and areas and records the relationships of incidence and connectivity among them.
Dueker and Kjerne 1989; pp. 7-8

GIS for Coastal Management

Government programs for comprehensive and coordinated coastal management require the collection and integration of large amounts of geospatial data to be effective. Examples of geospatial data commonly used in coastal management include: location of the shoreline, regulatory zones on both the land and water sides of the shore, land ownership, bathymetry, coastal geomorphology, infrastructure, and habitat area delineations. Geographic information systems (GIS) provide the means to manage, integrate, and analyze these data. Darius Bartlett of University College in Cork, Ireland wrote an article in 1990 identifying several benefits of a GIS approach to coastal management, including: (1) the ability to model, test, and compare alternative scenarios - before the proposed strategy is imposed on the real world; (2) the ability to handle much larger data bases and to integrate and synthesize data -- leading to a more holistic and coordinated management strategies; and (3) enhanced capacity for data exchange (Bartlett 1990, p. 33).

Links to Web Sites About GIS


[Coastal GIS Applications Home] [LICGF Home] [UW Sea Grant Home]

Last modified by David Hart on October 22, 1999