Geographic Information System: Application, Problems & Data Representation

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a powerful tool used to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, and present spatial and geographic data. It combines hardware, software, and data to enable users to visualize, interpret, and understand information related to specific locations on the Earth’s surface.

At its core, GIS uses geographic data, which includes both spatial (location-based) and attribute (descriptive) information. Spatial data refers to the coordinates, boundaries, and features that represent physical objects or phenomena on the Earth, such as roads, rivers, buildings, or land parcels. Attribute data provides additional information about these spatial features, such as population, land use, elevation, or temperature.

GIS technology allows users to link and analyze both spatial and attribute data, facilitating the exploration of relationships, patterns, and trends in a geographic context. Some common tasks and capabilities of GIS include:

1. Data Capture: GIS allows the collection of geographic data through various methods, including satellite imagery, aerial photography, GPS (Global Positioning System) surveys, and digitization of existing maps or data sources.

2. Data Storage and Management: GIS provides a framework for storing, organizing, and managing large volumes of geographic data. It enables the creation of spatial databases, where data can be stored and retrieved efficiently.

3. Data Analysis: GIS offers a wide range of analytical tools and techniques to explore and analyze geographic data. It allows users to perform spatial queries, overlay different layers of data, calculate distances and areas, conduct statistical analyses, and model spatial relationships.

4. Data Visualization: GIS enables the visualization of geographic data through maps, charts, graphs, and other graphical representations. It helps users understand complex spatial patterns, identify trends, and communicate information effectively.

5. Decision Support: GIS supports decision-making processes by providing spatial insights and assisting in scenario planning, resource allocation, risk assessment, and policy development. It helps users evaluate alternatives, assess impacts, and make informed decisions based on spatial data analysis.

GIS is widely used in various fields, including urban planning, environmental management, natural resource exploration, transportation, emergency response, public health, agriculture, and business intelligence. Its applications range from mapping and visualization to complex spatial modeling and simulation.

By leveraging the power of GIS, organizations and individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the world around them, make informed decisions, and address complex spatial challenges more effectively.

Geographic Information Systems can be applied in different fields which include defence, agriculture, mining, transport, urban planning, census, surveying etc.

Problems of GIS in Nigeria

GIS (Geographic Information System) implementation in Nigeria faces several challenges, which can hinder its effective utilization and development. Some of the key problems of GIS in Nigeria include:

1. Inadequate Power: Frequent power outages and inconsistent electricity supply pose a significant challenge to GIS implementation. GIS relies on continuous power to operate and process data effectively. The lack of reliable power infrastructure limits the functionality and accessibility of GIS systems.

2. Inadequate Personnel: There is a shortage of skilled personnel with expertise in GIS technology in Nigeria. The limited number of professionals trained in GIS hampers the effective implementation and utilization of GIS across various sectors. This shortage results in a lack of capacity to handle GIS projects and limits the potential for innovation and development.

3. Inadequate Capital: Insufficient funding and financial resources present a significant challenge to the advancement of GIS in Nigeria. Adequate funding is essential to acquire and maintain GIS hardware, software licenses, data acquisition, and training programs. The lack of capital restricts the expansion and integration of GIS into various sectors of the economy.

4. Poor Communication: Inadequate communication infrastructure, including limited internet access and poor network coverage, affects the sharing and dissemination of GIS data. Effective utilization of GIS relies on seamless communication to exchange information and collaborate with stakeholders. The poor communication infrastructure in some areas of Nigeria hampers the timely and efficient use of GIS technology.

5. Low Level of Technology: The technological infrastructure required for GIS implementation, including hardware, software, and network capabilities, may be limited or outdated in some regions of Nigeria. The low level of technology inhibits the effective utilization of GIS and prevents the adoption of more advanced GIS tools and techniques.

6. Lack of GIS Institutions: Nigeria faces a scarcity of dedicated institutions or organizations focused on GIS research, training, and development. The absence of specialized GIS institutions limits the availability of educational programs, research opportunities, and platforms for collaboration and knowledge sharing. This hampers the growth and advancement of GIS expertise in the country.

Addressing these challenges requires a coordinated effort from the government, private sector, and educational institutions. Investment in infrastructure, training programs, and capacity building initiatives can help overcome these problems and promote the effective utilization of GIS in Nigeria. Additionally, fostering partnerships with international organizations and leveraging open-source GIS solutions can provide cost-effective alternatives to overcome some of the limitations.

Data representation

GIS data represents real objects (such as roads, land use, elevation, trees, waterways, etc.). Real objects can be divided into two abstractions: discrete objects (e.g., a house) and continuous fields (such as rainfall amount, or elevations). Traditionally, there are two broad methods used to store data in a GIS for both kinds of abstractions mapping references: raster images and vector.


  1. What is GIS?
  2. Mention two features that can be represented with GIS.
  3. State three cultural features.
  4. Mention five physical features in your environment
  5. Define geography.


  1. The instrument used in measuring the intensity of earthquake is called (a) barograph (b) binocular (c) seismograph (d) thermometer
  2. Fold mountains are formed mainly by (a) compressional forces (b) earthquake (c) erosional activities (d) eruption of molten magma
  3. “They are crystalline, non-stratified, hard and impervious”. The rock type described above is (a) calcareous (b) carbonaceous (c) igneous (d) sedimentary
  4. The shortest distance between any two points on the earth is along the (a) great circle (b) grid line (c) prime meridian (d) poles
  5. River capture is also known as river (a) confluence (b) divide (c) misfit (d) piracy


  1. List four areas of application of GIS.
  2. Explain two major problems affecting the application of GIS.


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