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What is GIS?


Studio Victoria

3 minutes

Besides Building Information Modelling, there are many other technologies that are extremely useful for different sectors. Today we are going to talk about GIS and we are going to answer the following questions: what is GIS?, what is GIS used for? and what are the advantages of GIS? Keep reading and find out how using GIS can help you to #ONEUPYOURBUSINESS!


The term GIS is an acronym for Geographic Information System and it consists of a software application that merges the visualisation of a map with the powerful usefulness of a database to capture and analyse data about a specific location. GIS also presents tools for sharing the data and collaborating with other parties involved in your projects.

GIS allows users to attach all kinds of information to the maps in a very similar fashion as BIM does with building and infrastructure assets, providing you with a central information repository.

After capturing the map and storing it in GIS, the software will locate it within the corresponding coordinate grid. There are different types of coordinate grids, in the United Kingdom we use the Ordnance Survey National Grid, also called British National Grid or OSGB 36, although the international standard is WGS 84, also called World Geodetic System.

The processed map data in GIS can be catalogued in 2 classes:

  • Raster: this is the visual representation as a digital photograph, which facilities quick identification of shapes and features
  • Vector: this is the group of specific coordinates. A Point is a pair of XY coordinates, which a shape being a group of points that are interconnected. It is mainly used for processing and analysis


The main purpose of GIS, very much like BIM, is to provide a common framework for sharing georeferenced data and collaborating between different members of the project. Any GIS application will let you create highly interactive and data-drive maps, as well as the possibility to add different layers of information to your maps, with different features so you can produce bespoke analyses that suit your use case.

GIS can be used almost in any sector or industry: Farming, Facilities Management, Traffic Control, Civil Engineering, Property Development, Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, Education, etc.

To put it simply, if your data can be represented in a georeferenced map, you could and should GIS.

GIS lets you to:

  • Identify location-based issues and observe change over time: like coastal erosion or deforestation
  • Report geolocated events in Real-time and prioritise according to spatial data: you could monitor what parts of your roads are being used more heavily during a specific period of time and react to control the traffic
  • Forecast what could be needed for the lifecycle of your project and analyse trends: study changes in habits and patterns based in a location and adapt your project to cope with them, for example vegetation interference with your power grid


GIS offers many advantages to its users:

  • Enhanced collaboration: by having access to the same data from the same application, you could collaborate much more efficiently than by using traditional paper-based maps
  • Standardised geospatial data: you could convert your data to whichever grid reference system you are using, whether it is OSGB 36, WGS 84, etc. Having consistent data across all your maps will provide you with better analyses
  • Data-driven maps: add different layers with information and create bespoke maps that are tailored to your business and use case

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