What is Geographic Information System (GIS) technology?

GIS technology is the application of location-based analytics – using the science of geographical intelligence to analyze multiple, complex datasets layered over defined territories, revealing hidden trends and patterns.

Commercial, government and community groups all benefit from taking a geographic view of their enterprise, across areas including:

  • Planning and analysis
  • Field force management
  • Asset and data management
  • Situational awareness
  • Citizen and customer engagement

History of GIS technology

One of the first documented applications of GIS was in 1854 when English physician John Snow mapped the deaths caused by a cholera outbreak in London's Soho district.

By doing so, he could trace the cause to a contaminated water pump, resulting in the removal of the pump handle and an end to the epidemic.

Fast forward more than a century later, the father of modern-day GIS Jack Dangermond established Esri, launching the world's first commercial GIS software — ARC/INFO — in 1982.

It evolved into ArcGIS, a modular and scalable platform for desktop and enterprise use.

Esri's innovations include ArcGIS for mobile and web environments and ArcGIS Online, which leverages the cloud to make GIS capabilities available to every business, government, household, student, and community group around the world.

Discover more GIS applications across industries here.