GIS Systems ?!? from acronym to a term…

Yesterday, for the first time, I came across the phrase ‘GIS Systems’ in an academic paper, written by geographers (not GIS experts). I have also noticed that the term is being used more often in recent times when people talk about packages such as ArcGIS or Mapinfo.

On the face of it, talking about a ‘GIS System’ is ridiculous – how can you say ‘geographic information system system’? However, people have a reason for using this phrase and it makes some sense to them.

Maybe the reason is that GIS now stands for a class or type of computer software that can manage, manipulate and visualise geographic information, so GIS system is the specific hardware and software that is used. Personally, I’ll continue to find it odd and use GIS for what it is…

Published by

mukih

Professor of GIScience, University College London

4 thoughts on “GIS Systems ?!? from acronym to a term…”

  1. Nice observation. Perhaps the author had in mind “Geographic Information Science” when this usage was written…? Maybe.

    1. In the case that I mentioned, it was very clear. Something like ‘GIS systems were used for analysis’ so I don’t think that it was GIScience…

  2. If the audience is not that familiar with GIS it’s worth sometimes specifying that it is a type of system in your text. I’d be tempted instead to use ‘GI system’ but that doesn’t seem right. We wouldn’t talk about more general ‘I systems’. So.. what do we do? TBH, for the non-GIS audience I might just use ‘map system’ .. or ‘map’. \o/

  3. How do you make GIS Plural? I think that’s what the author was battling here. I’m okay with GIS being a term. Heck, unfriend is a verb.

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