We can map the spatial location of real-world features and visualize the spatial relationships among them. Example: below we see a map of frac sand mine locations and sandstone areas in Wisconsin. We can see visual patterns in the data by determining that frac sand mining activity occurs in a region with a specific type of geology.
3D models can be made to look very realistic by applying colour to the surfaces. It is even possible to drape raster images of maps or aerial photos over the surface with quite stunning effect. Furthermore, if the heights of physical objects like buildings, forests and electricity pylons are known, these can also be built into the 3D model. Hence it is possible to create computer models of entire towns and villages which relate directly to the real world.
Geographical analysis allows the study of real-world processes by developing and applying models. Such models illuminate underlying trends in the geographical data and thus make new information available. A GIS enhances this process by providing tools, which can be combined in meaningful sequences to develop new models. These models may reveal new or previously unidentified relationships within and between data sets, thus increasing our understanding of the real world. Results of geographical data analysis can be communicated with maps, reports, or both. A map is best used to display geographical relationships whereas a report is most appropriate for summarizing the tabular data and documenting any calculated values.
With billions of smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, and other Internet-connected devices in use worldwide, stand-alone apps have captured the world’s attention. GIS apps in particular have transformed how people think about geography. Every map has an interface—a user experience that brings that particular map into use. These experiences bring GIS to life for all kinds of uses, including the Arctic Elevation Explorer app shown here featuring the latest high-definition terrain measurements.