Mapping software can be a very valuable tool to any researcher but it won’t take you long till you realise that just like Photoshop, it can be a very daunting prospect for beginners. In order to help you get the ball moving we have come up with a mapping software 101 – to learn the basics.
What Is Mapping Software?
It always helps to begin with a clear understanding of what the mapping software is and it is most commonly referred to as geographic information systems (GIS). This system allows its users to usefully visualize and analyse data on top of a map.
How Can It Be Used?
What this does is allow us to see patterns and relationships between the data and across different geographical areas. A good example that is currently being used a lot in the media is world obesity rates, the GIS showing this data would highlight the likes of America and the UK, leaving areas like Africa alone. What this shows the user is that more economically developed countries are likely to have higher obesity rates.
The mapping software is therefore a system that you can enter data into and then manipulate it to show it on the surface of a map. You could show the entire earth of be specific enough to a 5-mile area if you wish. As you might have guessed from the above statement, the mapping software is reliant upon data, whether it is the basic geographic data that sets the boundaries of your study or the information that you input.
When You Might Need Mapping Software
The Internet is an ideal location for accessing maps and geographical locations, but the likes of Google maps can only be useful to a certain degree. If you are looking to use mapping software to help analyse your research then the chances are you are going to need software that allows you to display and present your data without it seeming cluttered or unintelligible.
GIS mapping software is usually the best bet in this regard and it allows you to be accurate to an incredible degree. For instance if you wanted to show the population of an area by the number of people living in each home then you could do this (providing you have the data to do so). The software even allows you to layer this information on top of others, so you could theoretically put the average income of a home on top of the number of people who live in it. This would therefore provide you with a unique look at an area and also give you plenty of different theories to prove with it.
Is It Worth It?
Overall this form of mapping software is a great way to help you visualize data. It is a step up from regular mapping software and it requires strong data-analysis skill, but the results are usually worth the effort and there is unlimited potential to show your research. If this mapping software is something that interests you then it is possible to learn it from a variety of sources, it is often said that the real power of this software comes from those who use it and with more and more people getting involved it is more accessible than ever.