What is ArcGIS? and How Does it Work and Platform?


ArcGIS is a geographical information system (GIS) software that allows handling and analyzing geographic information by visualizing geographical statistics through layer building maps like climate data or trade flows. It’s used by a whole host of academic institutions and departments, both in the humanities and sciences, to develop and illustrate groundbreaking research. Further, it is used by several governments and private/commercial institutions worldwide.

The system has the capacity to create geographical information accessible throughout a company, institution, privately or publicly on the internet. Therefore, the software essentially works as a platform whereby geographical information can be linked, shared and analyzed.

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How Does it Work?

Like many GIS software, ArcGIS creates maps that require categories organized as layers. Each layer is registered spatially so that when they’re overlaid one on top of another, the program lines them up properly to create a complex data map. The base layer is almost always a geographical map, pulled out of a range of sources depending upon the visualization needed (satellite, road map, etc). This program has a lot of them available to users and also contains live feed layers including traffic details.

The first three layers are called feature or vector layers, each containing individual functions distinguished through the platform. These are:

  • points (like landmarks, buildings)
  • lines (like roads and other 1D schemata)
  • polygons (like political information and geographical census, called 2D data)
  • raster images (a base vector layer like an aerial picture)

Data can be correlated with at least one of these spatial layers and can be both mapped and analyzed, be it through features like demographic changes, or via data tables.

However, what sets this method apart from its competitors is the complex platform through this mapping and data can be performed. Therefore, it’s a vast-reaching program subject to the latest improvements and updates. It is currently available on Microsoft Windows desktops, although the online program is accessible on many operating systems. As it operates as a platform, users should not wade through pages of information and data; resources are available to decrease and extract specific information from much bigger geographical datasets. In sum, it’s a one-stop solution to data management and analysis as filtered through map construction. Anyone with basic computer proficiency and an interest in map-making can learn ArcGIS in just 2 weeks.

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Complex Graphics and Data

It allows you to create stunning visual maps and models rapidly, such as three-dimensional renderings and population flow maps. Using a drag-and-drop function, spreadsheets of data could be loaded immediately on the cloud and visualized. There’s also a good mapping tool that suggests the best styles, classifications, and colors fit your data.

Imagery is offered in high-resolution, obtained from both the recent and historic sources worldwide, allowing for the building of historical maps as well as recent demographic data and information observations. Surface phenomena, like elevation, temperature, rainfall and so on, can also be fully integrated into such visual maps and models with amazing tools for surface analysis.

Where is it Used?

As an industry-leading platform, the package of applications and tools central to this program is used by a majority of companies, institutions, and departments dealing with geographical information analysis. Yet the ease of its interface has also seen its worth jump in media and journalistic use as well.

ArcGIS comes with a strong reputation and history. This simple fact makes it to a staple piece of software for different companies dealing in geographical information systems. In particular, it’s used by state and local governments across the world, including in the USA.

Types of Software

This software comes in many different incarnations, in the standard desktop package to some completely web-based program. The desktop package includes the base package to publish and manage information and data, also giving access to the online and “Enterprise” options. The online version includes lots of functions needed to make web apps and web maps using geographical information. There is a gallery of base maps and styles to select from and also a whole host of data piles to visualize.

Obviously, you can input your personal data too. The advantages of the online program include the sharing of content during as well as outside your organization. Groups can access personal maps on an invite, allowing for collaboration. Additional parts of the software platform include applications, like navigation, collection, and surveying tools, as well as a fast explorer and workforce tools for coordinated fieldwork.

If this interests you, look for an online ArcGIS Training provider or a self-paced learning kit which will help you learn the basics and become a pro.