California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Related GIS Links


Department of Fish & Wildlife
Biogeographic Data Branch

Physical Address:
1700 9th Street, 4th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95811

Mailing Address:
1416 9th Street, Suite 1266
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 322-2493 • Email BDB

What Is GIS?

The question "What is GIS?" is often posed to GIS Professionals, and we usually have a hard time answering it in a satisfactory way.

We often end up saying "It's computerized mapping", or "It's a combination of computerized mapping and databases", or something along those lines. To do it justice, you need to go a bit deeper. Here's one definition:

GIS is spatial data management and mapping. It provides a way to collect, manage, analyze, and display data with a spatial/geographic dimension. It allows us to view, understand, interpret and question data in ways that are just not available when looking at data in a table, and this can often reveal otherwise unnoticed relationships, patterns and trends. This is critical in Natural Resource Management and many other fields, as the "where" element is often a very significant component.

Here are a few pages with additional definitions of GIS:

And here's an additional page with a multitude of information about mapping and GIS: