Essential Information's

Geographic Information Systems


Welcome to Essential Information's GIS Project's web site.

A Geographic Information System is a computer assisted system for the assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying of geographic information. Central to a GIS is a database. Typically, the database has two elements -- a spacial database describing the geography of a feature and an attribute database describing any associating characteristics.

Different from a cartographic map, a GIS will allow traditional database queries to include the ability to analyze data based on location. For example, we may want to find all areas of residential land on soil types associated with high levels of radon gas. This is a problem that a traditional database cannot solve, for the reason that soil types and landuse divisions simply do not share the same geography. Traditional database query is fine so long as we are talking about attributes belonging to the same categories. But when the entities are different, it does not answer our questions. A GIS allows us to compare different pieces of information based on their common geography. The process of "overlaying information" since it is identical in character to placing transparent maps of two groups on top of one another.

GIS can be considered a decision support system. Alternative outcomes of environmental phenomena can be modeled and revised. Also, multiple databases can be linked to geographic points on the ground. This can include census data, membership data, or key congressional districts cross-matched with specific resources. The possibilities are numerous. Common applications of GIS include managing urban resources and development, image processing satellite information, coastal management and demographic profiling.

Essential Information uses GIS as a tool for advocacy purposes. We use GIS to analyze a variety of databases highlighting patterns of discrimination. We believe that consumer and advocacy groups need to utilize technological tools to advance their purpose. Our GIS project is one component of this effort.

This project would not be possible without the help of Environmental Systems Research Institute(ESRI), a leading GIS software maker. ESRI has been instrumental in encouraging the non-profit community to embrace this very useful technology.

For a sample of our maps, click on one of the following:
Banking/Fair Lending Crime


Congressional Districts Environment

Thank you for visiting Essential Information's GIS project, for more information please contact (khoffman@Essential.ORG)