The advances in modern mapping technology are exciting to say the least.

GIS is now going where no mapping system has ever gone before.

Remember the old paper maps we used just a short time ago to find directions?

Well those days are LONG gone.

The Way GIS Software Works

GIS stands for geographic information system. It works by displaying any data (facts figures or events) on a map in relation to a specific point on the surface of the earth and can relate the information to both location and elevation.

So, let’s say you want to know what the average temperature is at a specific elevation on the mountain you want to go hiking on the next time you get a day off. You need to know because this will tell you what types of clothes to bring and if you’re staying overnight what rating your sleeping bag should have.

If the GIS software system you’re using has average temperature’s at elevations for your mountain programmed then it will display them to you on a very easy to understand map.

Back in the old days people would overlay regular paper maps with clear Mylar sheets marked up with different information. As you can imagine this was really cumbersome because if you had multiple layers of data you had multiple layers of Mylar too.

Have You Heard This Mapping Joke?

There’s an old map joke that also illustrates the serious limitations of old paper maps and that is. Why do paper maps never win at poker? Because they always fold.

One of the challenges with paper maps was that constant folding caused fold lines to be unreadable and tear easily. Not to mention there have been untold numbers of movie and TV comedy scenes with people attempting to read a huge unfolded map while driving.

Now we don’t have to worry about such things, we can hold the map of the globe in the palm of our hands.

The type of information that can be displayed relevant to a particular location or elevation is only limited to the data you have added to the database.

How does that benefit you?

Well, here are just a few of its nearly unlimited uses.

Fantastic Uses For GIS Software

Here are some incredibly useful things GIS software can do that affect your everyday life.

Each of the examples predisposes that the information you want displayed was programmed in first.

Let’s say you’re headed on a drive into the mountains to go have fun or you just need to travel through them. It’s winter time and there is snow on the ground, but the roads should be pretty clear.

You don’t want to have to go buy snow tires for just this little trip. So, you hop onto your GIS system and check recommended tire pressures for the temperature and elevation you’ll be driving in.

Because you’re smart and think ahead, you and your family safely cruise right on by while other people are stranded and in the ditch.


You and your relatives rented a mountain cabin for a weekend or a holiday and you’re job is to cook the Turkey. This is important and you don’t want to mess it up because you know they will email you photos of your burnt Turkey for years to come. Plus social media can be a cruel place.

But not to fear. You have a look at your GIS software on your laptop and you input the elevation and ask about baking times per pound of Turkey at that height (baking times and temperatures change at high elevations). Now armed with your info you bake the best Turkey anyone has ever tasted and they share the photos of your magnificent bird on their social accounts making you look like a master chef instead.


Once you get your head around the fact that GIS simply relates data (information) to a fixed point of location, elevation or both on the earth’s surface you begin to see not only just how easy it is, but also how incredible the possibilities are as well.

Questions or comments? Let us know in the space below.