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Finding Spatial Data for Mapping (GIS)

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What is GIS?

Includes spatial data sources and mapping tools and support persons. Boston College supports several Geographic Information Systems software packages on campus.

GIS Definitions

Geographic Information System (GIS) is a database management system (DBMS) for capture, storage, retrieval, analysis, and display of spatial data and related information. The GIS data is referenced by spatial or geographic coordinates (i.e. city name, state name or zip code) and can be integrated with additional sources of data.

GIS applications cross all disciplines. Some common GIS applications are in the areas of:

  • Urban planning
  • Business and marketing
  • Environmental law/planning
  • Geology
  • Transportation
  • Health care
  • Criminology

Additional Information

To learn more about GIS and how it is used, try the following web sites:

USGS What is GIS?
USGS web site providing definitions, descriptions of how GIS works and how it is used.


Additional GIS Definitions from the Census Department

U.S. Census site with some definitions and frequently asked questions about GIS and it's uses.


Dictionary of Abbreviations and Acronyms in Geographic Information Systems, Cartography, and Remote Sensing

Dictionary from U.C. Berkley which decodes abbreviations and acronyms found in various publications including maps and websites.

AGI GIS Dictionary
Dictionary of GIS terms from the Association of Geographic Information, a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the use of geographically related information.