Western Libraries

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

What is GIS?

"A Geographic Information System (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends" (Esri)

GIS allows us to answer complex questions about our environment, such as where to locate a new hospital or what areas are at greater risk of flooding. GIS can also help us provide insight into our data. For example, we can map socio-economic or demographic information by census geographies in order to help understand spatio-temporal trends. GIS can also be used as an information visualization tool, or to add spatial context to a research problem through a simple digital map.

About this Guide

This guide is an additional resource to the Western Libraries Map and Data website and Geospatial Hub and acts as an aid in finding information pertaining to software, data, and support for GIS and geospatial data.

Getting Started

Western Libraries can help get you started on your GIS journey. No matter your background, experience, or computer skills, we'll work with you towards incorporating GIS and digital mapping into your research.

Before reaching out, start thinking about what support you'll require from us:

  • What are the goals and priorities of your project? Which of the following areas would you like to focus on: information dissemination, knowledge exchange, information visualization, data discovery, GIS analysis?
  • Do you have all the data you'll require for your project, geospatial and otherwise?
  • Have you explored the examples of Western University led research projects that incorporate GIS on the Geospatial Hub?
  • Have you thought about your project timeline? Perhaps start by building a smaller GIS product like a Story Map before incorporating your research into a full-fledged open data site.