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Adding More Information to Maps with GIS

GPS Global Positioning System
Air Navigation

GIS stands for Geographic Information System. GIS uses software to add 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 made 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 groups such as City Councils. GIS gives access to data and shows different sets of data together.

GIS gives people a picture of data that allows them to:

  • problem solve
  • write reports
  • track changes
  • make decisions
  • plan for the future e.g. which areas could be used to build houses.

GIS needs four things:

  1. People: people who are trained in GIS.
  2. Data: geospatial information (where things are located) is entered into the GIS software.
  3. Software: GIS software analyses data and presents it in different ways for the user.
  4. Hardware: includes hand held devices for collecting data and computers with GIS software.

Data in a GIS system is stored in sets called ‘data sets’ in a database. Data sets can be turned on and off so they are shown all together or separately as layers on a map: 

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?

The Greater Wellington Regional Council has developed a GIS map web viewer to show and shared information on natural hazards in Wellington. Image: GWRC.

GIS can show a lot of information all on one map. This GIS shows road closures and other important information following the Christchurch earthquake. Image: Eagle Technology Ltd.

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

GPS Global Positioning System
Air Navigation