A GIS is a Geographic Information System. Basically, it's a map on steroids. Data is specifically tagged to location allowing very complex mapping and analysis, layer by layer.  A layer of water features can interact with a layer of municipal services or lot lines or underground petrol tanks or vegetation cover – all of which allows true spatial analysis of interacting data points or phenomena.

We can look back to the start of GIS mapping in 1854, when London physician John Snow plotted cholera deaths on a London map with water pumps, allowing him to pinpoint the pump causing the disease outbreak. This first GIS map was also the beginning of the study of Epidemiology and extended the concepts behind the Germ Theory of Disease.

The first computerized GIS was undertaken in Canada by Roger Tomlinson who, in 1963, using the most basic of computers, created a cross-country inventory of natural resources. GIS today is found in every area of business, government, and non-governmental agencies. Route optimization; water mains location; search and rescue; disease outbreaks; charting changes to our natural world — all of this is done with GIS.

Getting Started in GIS

Introduction to GIS
ESRI 3min

What you can do with GIS
Ordnance Survey (OS)  2:40

A simple GIS using gSheets
How to make awesome interactive map using Google Sheets in under 1 minute - Geoawesomeness

GIS Use in the Map Chart and Data Production Community

The world's first GIS:
John Snow's landmark 1854 work on the Broad Street cholera outbreak.

Map an Historic Cholera Outbreak
Activity using ArcGIS Online (ESRI)

ESRI ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Overview
ESRI 3min

Introduction to ArcGIS Online for K-12
(ESRI Canada →check your country's ESRI Office for details) 

Getting started with ArcGIS Online
(ESRI Canada →check your country's ESRI Office for details) 

ArcGIS Tutorials to get you started

GIS Data Sets

NASA Earth Observations – Global maps available as JPEG, GeoTIFF, CSV and KML files

GIS Applications

Geomatics at WaterlooU
2min video + webpage

Search & Rescue in PEI
3min + webpage

Historic Environment Scotland

Conservation  through
National Geographic 4min

Careers in GIS

Exploring GIS Careers

Career Paths in GIS