What are the Components of GIS?

6 Components of GIS

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by visitgis

The population of the world is growing at the rate of around 1.05% per year, it is estimated at 81 million people per year. The rapid growth of the population is creating challenges for decision-makers. The mission of sustainable governance, policies, and planning empower to fight against the modern world challenges. There are different angles to observe the arising problems. GIS is the tool that gives the spatial perspective of global sustainability problems. So, What are the components of GIS? and how it helps.

Organizations and people around the world are compiling scientific data about natural resources, ecological systems, and human impacts.

In the world of emerging sciences, Geographical information systems (GIS) is being used almost all fields of sciences. Let’s know about the components of GIS.

Brief Overview of GIS (Geographical Information Systems)

Geographical or geography is all about the Earth places, people, environment, and relationships. Information systems help to collect, manipulate, store, manage and visualize distributed spatial data for decision making.

The Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is a system that collects, creates, manage, manipulate, analyze and visualize (spatial and non-spatial) data in form of maps and other data visualization techniques for decision-makers.

What are the 6 components of GIS?

In Geographical Information systems, there are six key components.

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • People
  • Methods or procedures
  • Data
  • Network Communication
Components of GIS


The term hardware is physical equipment and machines use to perform GIS workflows. The basic component of hardware is a computer. A computer consists of many input and output devices.

We can divide components of hardware into 3 categories:

  • Input Unit
  • Memory and Storage Unit
  • Output Unit

Details of Hardware Components of GIS

Input Unit

The input unit is responsible to inject raw data and controlling input signals by input devices.  The data behaved as a feeder for information processing systems by users.

Examples Input Devices:

Mouse, Keyboard, TouchPad, Pointing Stick, Joy Stick, Trackball, Paddle, Jog Dial

Video-Input Devices: Digital Camera, Camcorder, Webcam, Image Scanner, Bar Code Scanner, fingerprint scanner.

Audio Input Devices: Microphone, MIDI Keyboard, Musical Instruments

GIS: GPS, Map Scanners, Satellites Sensors

Memory and Storage Unit

Every computer needs a storage device to store data. The storage devices can store data temporary or permanent. Modern computers use either an HDD Hard Disk Drive or SSD Solid State Drive.

HDDs are actual disks, and mechanical arm read disks sector by sector.

SSDs are like SIM cards. SSDs have no moving parts and these are faster than HDDs. The question arises then, Why SSDs are faster than HDDs? The reason is logical when a mechanical hand moves around the disk it takes time. The handle moves around the disk read data for each sector, it takes time.

Output Unit

The output unit is responsible to display process results from a computing machine. There are different formats to show results for human understanding. 

Examples of Output Units include Monitor, Printer, Plotter, Mobile Screen, Projector etc

GIS Outputs: Maps, Cartograms, Charts, Directions, 3D Diagram, Videos etc


Software is a program designed by developers to instruct computer hardware ‘What to do and How to do’.

GIS software is the set of instructions for GIS methods. These instructions run on hardware. This set of instructions needs data and processes data according to a set of methods.

Examples of GIS Software includes Esri ArcGIS, Google Earth Pro, BatchGeo, Google Maps API, ArcGIS Online, Maptitude, ArcGIS Pro, MapInfo Pro etc


The human who performs GIS tasks. The group of people makes a team. Teamwork is the backbone of achieving great. Teamwork helps you deliver mega projects in time and precision.

Teamwork is the basic principle that each GIS professional must learn. Usually, we learn technical stuff and miss interpersonal skills that produce great results.

Let’s discuss what kind of roles of people in the GIS industry.

GIS is an emerging field, designations were not set from day one. The roles became mature with the passage of time with their roles. Sometimes we see many designation titles for the same kind of role with different names.

There are three major categories of roles such as

exploration level, Intermediate level, and manager level.

Exploration Level titles:

  1. GIS Editor
  2. GIS Technician 
  3. GIS officer
  4. Draftsman
  5. Jr. GIS Analyst
  6. Digitizer
  7. Jr. GIS Web Developer
  8. Spatial Data Handler
  9. Jr. Spatial DBA
  10. Jr. GIS Front End Developer
  11. Data extraction specialist

Intermediate Level titles:

  1. GIS Analyst
  2. GIS Data Engineer
  3. Spatial Database Administrator
  4. GIS front End Developer
  5. GIS Data Capture Specialist
  6. GIS Mapping Technician
  7. GIS Business Analyst

Manager Level titles:

  1. Chief GIS officer (CGO)
  2. GIS Manager
  3. GIS supervisor 
  4. GIS Specialist 
  5. GIS Team Lead
  6. GIS product Manager
  7. Geospatial Subject Matter Expert
  8. Geospatial Scientist

Prescient & Strategic Intelligence forecast the GIS market reaches $17.5 billion by 2023. The demand gap is GIS Solution for enterprise sectors in developing nations.

Components of GIS
Related Job Titles to Geographic Information Science, from BurningGlass.com (November 2020).

Generally, all types of stakeholders come under the umbrella of the people category.

Methods Procedures

Procedures or methods are the techniques to perform GIS workflows. Methods come from mother sciences such as mathematics, statistics, physics and other sciences.

Procedures are programmatic instructions for computing machine that converts raw data into information. In short, algorithms tell the computer what to do and how to do it.


Data is the most important part of GIS. The quality of process output is directly proportional to the quality of data. Data comes from various acquisition methods like Land surveys, Satellites and other sensors.

There are two major types of data in GIS

  • Spatial Data
  • Non-Spatial Data

Spatial data can divide into two categories

  • Vector Data
  • Spatial Data

 Vector data divides into three major categories as 

  1. Point
  2. Line
  3. Polygon

Network and Communication

Cloud computing is a revolution in the GIS industry. It can only be possible by Network and communication. Sharing is the crux of all doings. So, the network and communication is a vital component of GIS.

Importance of GIS Components

Imagine you have a car, and it has no wheels. Likewise, all components of GIS are important to finish the GIS workflow. Yes, it’s right some components are the basic components such as computers, data and software.

Above all, in past times cartographers made maps collected data without advanced tools. So, we can say spatial data is the most important component of GIS.

GIS project life cycle uses almost all components. Each component plays it unique role to achieve the main goal of data visualization.


Components of GIS are the building blocks of the GIS mechanism. In other words, components of GIS are tools of cartographers. These tools help people to perform their GIS tasks with precision.

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