A geographic information system (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data. The key word to this technology is Geography – this means that some portion of the data is spatial. In other words, data that is in some way referenced to locations on the earth.

Coupled with this data is usually tabular data known as attribute data. Attribute data can be generally defined as additional information about each of the spatial features. An example of this would be schools. The actual location of the schools is the spatial data. Additional data such as the school name, level of education taught, student capacity would make up the attribute data. It is the partnership of these two data types that enables GIS to be such an effective problem solving tool through spatial analysis.