What is GIS ?

Discover definition, meaning and usages for Geographic Information Systems.

What does GIS mean?

GIS means Geographic Information System. This is geographical software that creates custom maps. 

What is GIS?

A Geographic Information System stores spatial information and represents it visually on a map. It is possible to apply several layers of different types of data to conduct analyses. This software helps to make decisions, for example, on land use planning, the establishment of new sales outlets, or the management of geolocalised communication.

GIS tools have existed since the early 1970s, some of which have become advanced and complex software requiring advanced skills in geographic representation both in deployment and use. Since the 2000s, however, online services have been offering more easily accessible and intuitive applications adapted to the needs of more traditional professions such as company founders, marketers, and salespeople.

What does GIS stand for?

There are many possible projects with Geographic Information Systems, from marketing to politics to urban planning thanks to its several features:


Geomarketing is a marketing discipline applied to the geographical dimension. It involves either conducting geomarketing studies (local market research) or conducting geotargeted marketing campaigns. Read our article


GIS services enable players in the tourism sector to plan all types of activities to offer their customers personalized itineraries.


Urban planning needs GIS to take into account geographic and terrain analysis to carry out their city organization and urban development projects.


GIS is mainly used to conduct environmental impact studies by taking into account different factors on a map.


In agriculture, GIS is needed to manage individual plots, trace products and monitor the global agri-food market. For sustainable resource management, it is necessary to monitor the evolution of water resources on a map.


GIS allows, in the same way as urban planning, the management of forest areas and the monitoring of their evolution.


Municipalities, agglomerations, and communities can use GIS tools to manage their waste collection network.

There are still many applications for GIS software, so it is at the crossroads of many sectors and many professions.

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How to use GIS?

To use a GIS, you first need to know your needs:

  • To analyze business performance
  • To know the surrounding market
  • Optimize location or distribution networks
  • Define the best location for a business
  • Facilitate decision making
  • Managing and monitoring the mobility of a company’s employees
  • Allocate and assign territories to sales representatives
  • Plan localized communication campaigns
  • Etc

Depending on your needs, you will have a clearer view of the functionalities required for the use of GIS, as well as the complexity of the project.

You will have the choice between a more classical GIS like ArcGIS or Articque or to switch to a simpler but also easier to use cartography like OALLEY.

On OALLEY, the functionalities are the following:

  • Creation of catchment areas (isochrone, isodistance, postal codes)
  • Extraction of population data (INSEE)
  • Search for companies & services and export
  • Data import, visualization, and analysis

What is the difference between GIS and GPS?

GPS means Global Positioning System, they are coordinates that locate a thing, a place, or a person. Whereas GIS is software that processes location data (like GPS coordinates) on a map. GIS are used to get a better understanding and visualization of spatial data. 

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