3.1 Introduction

Maps are shared, available, and distributed, unlike at any other time in history. The mapping process has also been decentralized and democratized so that many more people have access to maps and are enabled and empowered to create their maps. This democratization of maps and mapping is attributable to a digital map production and consumption shift. Unlike analog or hardcopy maps that are static or fixed once printed onto paper, digital maps are highly changeable, exchangeable, and dynamic in scale, form, and content.

To understand digital maps and mapping, it is necessary to put them into the context of computing and information technology. First, this chapter introduces the building blocks of digital maps and geographic information systems (GIS), emphasizing how data and information are stored as files on a computer. Second, key issues and considerations related to data acquisition and standards are presented. Finally, the chapter concludes with a discussion of where data for use with a GIS can be found.

Learning Outcomes

  • Define and describe data and information and how it is organized into files for use in a computing and geographic information systems environment.
  • Highlight the difference between primary and secondary data sources and understand the importance of metadata and data standards.
  • Recognize and name basic database operations.
  • Identify and evaluate key considerations when searching for spatial and nonspatial data.
  • Recognize and name basic approaches to geographic representation.
  • Identify and explain at least three distinctive properties of geographic data.
  • Outline the kinds of questions that GIS can help answer.

GTCM Alignment

Chapter Sections

  • 3.1 Data and Information
  • 3.2 Metadata
  • 3.3 Researching Data
  • 3.4 Review
  • 3.5: References

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Geographic Information Systems and Cartography Copyright © 2022 by adamdastrup is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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