What is GIS?

GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is computer software that maps both visible (roads) and invisible (population density) characteristics of a place and allows users to interact with the information. It does so by displaying both the location of an object (such as a cell tower) and information about that object (the tower’s owner).

What kinds of information can GIS map? Anything with a location attached. In fact, by bringing together information that was previously stored in separate, often incompatible, forms GIS helps us form a more complete understanding of the world around us and make more informed decisions. For example, an ammonia tanker overturned on the freeway and it’s leaking. What area do we need to evacuate in one hour? In three hours? GIS can answer that. A 9-1-1 call comes in. Where is the caller located? Which Call Center should get the call? GIS can answer that. There’s a fire. Which fire station should respond? GIS can answer that. A bridge falls down and the emergency responders need maps. GIS can do that and more.


Related Resources

GIS, PSAPs & Wireless Communications

NENA GIS NG 9-1-1 Standards

Standard Data Formats for 9-1-1 Data Exchange and GIS Map 02-010v9
NENA Synchronizing GIS Databses with MSAG and ALI 09-08-09

National Addressing Standard

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