What is a GIS?
"A computer system for capturing, storing, checking, integrating, manipulating, analyzing and displaying data related to positions on the Earth's surface. Typically, a Geographical Information System is used for handling maps of one kind or another. These might be represented as several different layers where each layer holds data about a particular kind of feature. Each feature is linked to a position on the graphical image of a map. Layers of data are organized to be studied and to perform statistical analysis." Copyright © 1999, Association for Geographic Information
What software should I buy?
One of the first questions people ask who are interested in GIS is "What software package should I buy?" This question is a logical first step and since many groups only need to view and print out data, several online map tools are available now. If you think your town or organization has additional needs, contact Pete Fellows, GIS Manager at TRORC. He is happy to talk to towns or other groups about their GIS needs.
VGIS Base Map - VCGI offers a web mapping viewer as well as a map service you can access through your mapping software. The viewer allows you to pan and zoom around VT, label and save your view, and PDF or print your own maps using VT data and imagery.
Google Maps/Earth - Google Maps now has a service where you create labels and features on their mapping interface. Google also offers Google Earth, a 3D GIS program.
ArcGIS Online - ESRI (the large GIS company that makes ArcView) has developed these web services that is similar to Google Maps. You can search for maps and develop your own web applications.
ArcGIS Explorer - ESRI (the large GIS company that makes ArcView) has developed this software that is similar to Google Earth. Uses a "globe" interface and you can upload your own local data.
ArcExplorer -This is ESRI's free GIS viewer. Download the Education Edition. This version offers an Apple version and support for more imagery types.
ArcGIS - This is ESRI's main desktop GIS package. 10.x is the current version and costs about $1250.
ArcReader - This is a new viewer that operates much like Acrobat Reader. It reads published map files (PMF), but because it's so new and the file creation software costs $2500, you probably will not see too many of these files. TRORC has a license to create these files so you can request them from TRORC. The maps are much more robust than anything you can create with ArcExplorer.
MapInfo & DeLorme XMap GIS- TRORC does not recommend MapInfo/DeLorme simply because ESRI files are the native data format of VGIS data. TRORC is aware that a few communities do use MapInfo/DeLorme in its region and can help them convert data to ESRI formats for other users. Below is link to MapInfo's free viewer. DeLorme is offering a GIS program now. The base version costs about $400. Both can read ESRI shapefiles.