Geographic information systems (GIS) have been closely connected with city planning, surveying, and automobile navigation for many years. While these systems can tell you the best location for a city park, where your property lines are, and where your best friend’s new house is, GIS technology has far broader applications, many of which may surprise you. A large and diverse group of industries regularly rely on GIS, including:

  • Retail
  • Insurance
  • Manufacturing
  • Telecommunications
  • Petroleum
  • Electric and gas utilities
  • Health
  • Education

Much More Than Maps

Let’s take a moment to define geographic information systems before delving into how they’re used, how they work, and what they can tell us about our world. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, GIS is defined as “a computer system that analyzes and displays geographically referenced information,” and “uses data that is attached to a unique location.” Data is a wide-ranging term, which helps explain how GIS can be applied so broadly to provide many different kinds of valuable information. For example, GIS can:

  • Show where a hurricane is likely to hit or where an earthquake may occur and how these may impact the local population, economy, and landscape.
  • Pinpoint high-crime areas.
  • Identify areas where illicit drug use and addiction are rampant.
  • Highlight regions where famine, drought, and disease are prevalent.
  • Indicate where glaciers and other natural ice formations have begun to recede.
  • Track changes in weather patterns over time.
  • Predict areas in which motor vehicle traffic is likely to increase.
  • Reveal which industries are growing and which are shrinking within a targeted area.
  • Determine where a new business might have a competitive advantage.
  • Identify the best places to build or expand a community.
  • Pinpoint an optimal location for a new fire station.

How GIS Works

How does GIS provide such varied and important information to us? GIS works through a combination of specialized software and hardware systems that collect and analyze data from various sources positioned on the ground, above the earth’s atmosphere, and everywhere in between. These sources include:

  • Cartographic data or information which is drawn from maps and surveying tools.
  • Aerial photography, which can capture a wide range of images of topographic features.
  • Digital data that is captured by orbiting satellites.
  • Alphanumeric data arranged in spreadsheets.

What GIS Data Ultimately Does for Us

Today’s world is data-driven, and GIS plays a large part in that. The data that geographic information systems provide empowers people and organizations to make sound decisions that take future growth and potential roadblocks into account. The long-term perspective GIS provides can help us anticipate and address variables—from predicting the amount of space available for new construction to ensuring adequate access to natural resources. GIS offers far more immediate benefits as well, telling us in quantifiable terms which geographical areas are problematic and in need of some constructive change. Whether identifying existing problems or ones that may lie ahead, the use of GIS adds up to a smart investment for nearly any locality, business, or government agency.

Our GIS and Geospatial Certificate Can Provide a Career Boost

The University of Texas Permian Basin has served the GIS and geospatial industries for more than 20 years. This exceptional bond has empowered UT Permian Basin to stay current with the technologies and methods used in these fields. Equipped with an insider’s perspective, we’ve developed a robust curriculum for our graduate-level GIS and Geospatial Certificate.

By participating in this online graduate certificate program, you’ll build valuable skills that will enable you to thrive in a career in fields such as environmental sciences, social analytics, public health, and business management. Every course in this certificate program is taught by acclaimed faculty who also lead campus-based classes at UT Permian Basin.

The Quick, Convenient Way to Add a Graduate Credential to Your Resume

Designed for students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, our 12-credit GIS and Geospatial Certificate is comprised of four courses, each lasting just eight weeks. This provides a speedy way to expand your professional skills and add a new credential to your resume. Our program is presented in an asynchronous, 100% online format that allows for unequaled flexibility. View course lectures and complete assignments on your own schedule from any location with internet access—whether in Texas or Thailand. That convenience means you can still manage your work and family responsibilities while earning your certificate.

See what our online graduate GIS and Geospatial Certificate can do for your resume and career!