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Introducing Geographic Information Systems with ArcGIS: A Workbook Approach to Learning GIS, 3rd Edition by Michael D. Kennedy

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Uses for a Geographic Information System

The following list of examples of the use of a GIS is hardly comprehensive, but as you read through it you may happen on ideas that will apply to your areas of interest or study.

Land and Its Use

Discounting the possibility of sudden catastrophe, the strongest factor in how things will be tomorrow is how they are today. A planner or manager who fails to provide himself or herself with information about the current state and characteristics of the environment will probably misplan and mismanage.

Perhaps the most important variables in a geographic database are as follows:

1. What now exists on the land (land cover and resources)
2. How the land is employed (land use and human-oriented activities)
3. What is legally permitted to happen to the land (zoning and legal control)

Once the present state of the environment, or the portions of it with which we are concerned, is recorded in a form amenable to processing, we can begin to make decisions about its conversions to some other use. A geographic information system can be useful in dealing with at least three general categories of issues:

  • Determining the effect a particular activity or land use will have at a particular location (sometimes called environmental impact analysis).
  • Given a particular activity, with its characteristics known, determining a set of locations where it might be placed (sometimes called locational analysis).
  • Given a particular location or site, determining a set ...

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