Maps are not new to humankind. They have been playing an integral role in human history. Ancient people have created maps to utilize them as an essential navigation tool. It is known to all that the earliest maps were “story maps” as the cartographers painted pictures based on the traveler’s experiences and knowledge, which described the landscape and facilitated explorers to identify routes while encountering stories.

With the evolution in human intelligence and the advancement of technologies, maps opened new doors to visualize and navigate locations worldwide. The digital maps have now replaced traditional paper maps allowing explorers the ease of navigation through their smartphones. This wonder wasn’t possible without the Geographic Information System’s initiation, as mapping is its central function providing visual data interpretations.

What exactly is GIS & How is it used?

Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computational framework for capturing, storing, analyzing, displaying, and visualizing data in a spatial environment. It aids in problem-solving and decision-making processes and enables people to understand patterns and relationships by displaying different kinds of data on a single map such as roads, streets, buildings, vegetations, etc.

What can be done with GIS?

Hundreds and thousands of organizations and individuals use geospatial data for making maps to communicate, perform analysis, share information, and solve problems in all fields of research and business such as,

Through geospatial data, one can determine

  • The location and relationship of features and elements
  • Where the most and least of some elements exist
  • The density of elements in a specific area
  • What is going on inside a region of intrigue/AOI
  • What is going on close by some elements or phenomenon
  • How a particular region is changed over time and how

What can be Mapped with GIS?

Any data can be mapped with GIS as far as it has geospatial references means it must be tied to a longitudinal and longitudinal point. Following are some example,

  • Where things are

The spatial location of real-world features can be mapped and visualized to determine the spatial relationship between them. For instance, below is the map showing locations of air quality measurement stations in Madrid, Spain.

  • Mapping Quantities

Elements or features quantities are mapped to identify where most and least are present and identify places meeting their criteria to see the relationship between them. For example, the below map illustrates cemetery locations by a dot. Areas are color-coded to show where most of the cemeteries exists; light blue indicates few, whereas dark blues indicate abundance.

  • Mapping Densities

Densities are mapped to show where the concentrated data lies in a region. It uses point data to portray the geographical distribution of features, such as population distribution maps, are the best example of mapping densities. The figure below depicts the population density map of Pakistan, according to the 2017 census report.

  • Mapping what is inside an area

GIS mapping is acknowledged as a useful tool to determine what is happening inside a region or identify specific features. To determine the characteristics, an area of interest is defined. Below is the map which demonstrates flood extent and areas such as buildings and farms in the floodway being affected. Clip tool can be applied to determine which features fall into the floodway.

  • Mapping what is nearby

GIS can map the nearby locations to any event or feature in a region to study the relation and effects of that event on the nearby places. The buffer tool can be used to map what could happen in nearby locations. The below map shows how much time a driver takes to travel based on the speed limit.

  • Mapping the Change

GIS mapping helps determine the change detection in any geographical region over two or more time periods. Change detection helps determine the change in the size, location, and shape of a feature over time. The change is mapped to envision upcoming situations, take possible actions, or assess an activity or strategy’s consequences. Below is the Land Use Land Cover map of Hangzhou, China, showing the urban development from 1992 to 2012. The red color specifies urban areas.

Types of GIS Maps

GIS mapping is a method of inputting GIS data layers into the software to produce maps that provide legible information that crude data can’t show all alone. GIS map is the best way to visualize and interpret geospatial information because visual data representation is better understood than the numerical data.

Following are some common types of GIS Maps;

       1.Category Maps

These maps are the easiest way to indicate which segment of a map belongs to each location. Within the GIS software, data is classified, and related data is entered, then the color is assigned to each category, and the data is displayed on a map. The map below shows how much votes go to McKinley, as indicated by Pink color and how much to Bryan, shown by Blue color.

      2. Quantity Map

Quantity map is also known as choropleth Map. The map’s feature is color-coded with shading based on quantitative data that helps to visualize trends and patterns based on locations. Such maps are used for demographic and business analysis. In the below map, one can clearly see how many percent of people live in poverty areas.

     3. Bubble Maps

Sometimes called “Graduated Marker Map.” It utilizes symbols to represent data at a specific aggregate. Bubble sizes are based on the numerical values; the bigger the symbol, the higher the value. It helps in data comparison and understanding information quickly. Therefore they are vividly used for business analysis. The below-mentioned map shows the death rate by vehicle in regions of California. Greater bubble size indicating more deaths, and a smaller bubble indicates few deaths.

     4. Heat Maps

Heat maps graphically visualize numerical data density in an area using a color-coding system. Heat maps effectively represent large volumes of densely packed numerical data making easy identification of trends and patterns in a given area based on color shade. The darker color on a map represents a large number of datasets, below map showing the hotspots of crime.

    5. Cluster Maps

Cluster maps also solve the problem of identifying the density of a particular feature in a particular area. It works like heat maps but clusters the adjacent points together into a single point. A cluster map uses different sizes, colors, and labels to represent how many points are included in each cluster.

Stacking Gis Map Layers

A GIS map is comprised of different layers. The map types discussed above can be stacked on the head of one another into a single map. In this way, users can flip between the various maps layers to see various information portrayals. For instance, one map may have one layer containing every seller domain’s limits, another layer that shows deals volume by province, and another point layer indicating every vendors’ area. The end client would then be able to flip each layer on and off as required.

Interactive Gis Mapping

GIS mapping offers a collection of intuitive tools that helps to improve the clearness of the information presented on the map. Such as MAP QUERIES.

Map query is a process to filter a data subset from a map layer to find an answer to a question. For instance, the query might be like “display the school’s locations with students less than 1000.” The GIS program then makes a reaction dependent on the information present. The query tool is an incredible way to deduce more data from the information already present.

Elements of a Map

A map can be made out of various components. They may include the Main map body, legend, title, scale marker, direction pointer, inset guide, source, and auxiliary data. Not all components require to be included on the map. A scale bar, for example, may not be fitting if the coordinate system doesn’t preserve distances over the map.

Tips to Create good maps

  • Choose the right map template
  • Use a good color scheme
  • Adjust boundaries or outlines colors to the base map to prevent map pattern interference with the boundaries
  • use the right size and color of a symbol
  • Include legends for a better understanding of a map
  • Label important features and locations
  • Include Compass to help explorer indicating directions
  • Draw grids system to define each location on a map

Map Guide making is a regular affair one performs to sort out the best path to a local park or travel cross-country. The way toward making maps for everybody is quite the same. Information is gathered about a particular feature, checked by hypothetical or applied methods to examine. The capability of applied research to make advanced “maps” has been significantly improved by utilizing geographic data systems (GIS). GIS permits users to make various sorts of maps according to the need by gathering, examining, and visualizing information in a combined dataset for use in a wide array of fields and disciplines.


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