What is GIS?

Environmental Services Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI), a worldwide leader in GIS technology and application, defines GIS as “...a collection of computer hardware, software, and  geographic data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.”


Unlike a static, unchanging paper map, GIS gives us the ability to constantly update data in an ever changing world. GIS allows us to store a feature’s position on the earth’s surface along with other descriptive information. For example, in addition to a road’s location we can also identify its name, condition, speed limit, etc.


Similar features, such as road centerlines, are grouped together in “layers”. Other layers may include rivers, property lines, land use, zoning districts and even aerial photography. These layers can then be organized on top of one another to create a customized map.


GIS is able to combine different datasets that allow us to view relationships between geographic features. For example, if a city was choosing a location to construct a new park, GIS can combine population data and possible park locations to identify which choice would have the greatest number of residents within walking distance. With this capability GIS can help answer not only where something is located but also why it is located there.


The capabilities of GIS allow it to be of great value to Jones County and its citizens. The data created for the Jones County GIS allows for a seamless view of the county real estate system without needing to flip through and paste together paper maps. Also with its ability to integrate with the tax and assessment systems It can provide a “one-stop-shop” for all the public’s real estate needs.

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