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Geographic Information Systems

How To Use This Guide

This guide provides an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Specifically, the guide describes and provides links to University of Oregon GIS resources and help, as well as links to open source software and data.

The remainder of this page describes what GIS is. The GIS resources at UO page of this guide describes and links to University of Oregon GIS resources and help. The Open-source GIS page of this guide provides links to websites where you can download free Geographic Information Systems software. The Free GIS Data page of this guide links to websites where you can download common GIS data types for free.

What is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are systems most frequently implemented using computer software that can open, store, analyze, manipulate, and manage spatial or geographic data. The term "spatial" indicates any abstracted space that could be measured, while geographic means specifically dealing with representations of Earth. Geographic Information System tools allow for user-generated searches, analysis of spatial information, editing of data, and displaying the results of these operations. The acronym GIS is interchangeably used to mean Geographic Information Systems and Geographic Information Science, the latter being the underlying scientific principles of how Geographic Information Systems operate.

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Kathy Stroud
University of Oregon Libraries
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1299