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What is Geographic Information Systems - GIS?

Geographic Information System (GIS) software is designed to analyze, display, manage, store, and retrieve all kinds of spatial and geographic data. The system enables you to produce maps and graphs of geographic info for presentation and analysis.Show more This makes it a useful application to visualize spatial data and to create decision support solutions that your organization can utilize. GIS software is leveraged in a wide range of industries including insurance, manufacturing, banking, supply chain, retail, real estate, media, and entertainment. For instance, retail businesses use this system to find the best locations for their outlets. Start by checking our leader ArcGIS, and other recommended solutions in this category.Show less

How was this ranking made?

In order to develop this ranking of best Geographic Information Systems - GIS we have researched 74 different tools currently available on the market, comparing their features, how easy are they are to learn, customer service, possible integrations as well as mobile device support using our patented SmartScoreTM rating algorithm. This list has been created by Louie Andre, our B2B authority responsible for the Geographic Information Systems - GIS category.

List of Top 12 Geographic Information Systems - GIS

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1. ArcGIS

Our score: 9.6 User satisfaction: 99%

A powerful mapping and analytic platform designed for exploring information and sharing location-based insights. Its capabilities include spatial analytics, mapping & visualization, 3D GIS, imagery and remote sensing, real-time GIS, and data collection & management—useful for any type of industry.

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2. Mapbox

Our score: 9.5 User satisfaction: 98%

Mapbox is a powerful map-making solution intended for developers. It offers a map customization suite called the Mapbox studio, which renders high-resolution maps that respond dynamically and fluidly to scripted events and user input.

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3. TerraSync

Our score: 9.4 User satisfaction: 87%

Trimble TerraSysnc is a simple, reliable, and productive platform crafted for fast and efficient GIS data collection and maintenance. It's optimized for proprietary handheld devices with integrated digital cameras, allowing you to capture, preview, and attach images with location metadata.

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4. MapInfo Pro

Our score: 9.2 User satisfaction: N/A

MapInfo Pro is a powerful, simple, and faster desktop GIS software designed for business analysts and GIS engineers. To do so, it offers capabilities like data creation and editing, raster GIS analysis, flexible visualization options, location intelligence suite, and total data compatibility.

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5. QGIS

Our score: 9.0 User satisfaction: 99%

QGIS is a cross-platform, open source geographic information system designed for viewing, editing, and analyzing geospatial data. This free GIS application enables you to view and overlay vector and raster data in a variety of formats and perform spatial data analysis in spatial databases.

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6. CARTO

Our score: 8.9 User satisfaction: N/A

An open-source platform with powerful location intelligence and analysis for businesses analysts, data scientists, and individual users. It's built on a drag-and-drop interface that comes with a Data Observatory, which enriches existing location data through relevant and versatile datasets.

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7. GRASS GIS

Our score: 8.9 User satisfaction: 97%

Open-source and free GIS software with 350+ modules for geospatial analysis and data management, maps and graphics production, multispectral image processing, and more. Available in all major operating systems, it also supports various types of databases and distributed under the GNU GPL license.

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8. FME Hub

Our score: 8.8 User satisfaction: 100%

Online community for accessing and sharing feature manipulation engine (FME) tools, including transformers, web connections, workspace templates, custom format readers/writers, and more. FMEs help streamline spatial data translation between digital and geometric formats and can be used for various GIS, CAD and raster graphics software.

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9. MapViewer

Our score: 8.7 User satisfaction: 100%

Thematic mapping and spatial analysis software for creating publication-quality maps and distinguishing trends and patterns in the data. Alongside its flexible map display, advanced analytics, and instant communication, MapViewer is a capable software for any professional that needs to make sense of location-based and spatial data.

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10. Bentley Map

Our score: 8.6 User satisfaction:

A GIS and mapping software for the desktop with enhanced interoperability, allowing it to support both 2D and 3D image modeling. With an open API, Bentley Map connects with Oracle Spatial so you can modify 2D and 3D map data directly.

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11. Hexagon PPM

Our score: 7.4 User satisfaction: 100%

Hexagon PPM is an enterprise engineering design and project control tool, with tools ranging from schematic designing, physical modelling, fabrication automation, and more.

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12. FuturaGIS

Our score: 7.0 User satisfaction: 100%

An all-around enterprise utility GIS platform.

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Geographic Information Systems - GIS Guide

Table of contents

GIS software helps to visualize spatial and geographic data and enables you to create easy-to-understand charts and graphs. Therefore, it finds use in a wide range of industries. However, it can be confusing to select the best GIS software for your specific business needs from the plethora of desktop and cloud-based applications out there. We help you do knowledgeable comparisons and make the right selection by giving you pointers on the key features and benefits to look for.

Get to Know Each Product with Free Trial

The best GIS software vendors offer a free trial to enable you to get acquainted with the software’s tools and find out if they match your needs. Therefore, do your homework and shortlist suitable solutions in this category. On our part, we recommend you try out ArcGIS, SuperGIS Desktop, Simple GIS Client, Bentley Map, and Maptitude.

Targeted Businesses

Geographic information tools are used by government agencies, businesses in many industries, land use planners, health organizations, environmental scientists, research institutions, communities, indigenous people, and others.

Examples of GIS Software

  1. ArcGIS: A cloud-based mapping solution. It offers robust yet simple online mapping tools that can be utilized even by lay users to create and share attractive maps. Besides maps, you can also use ArcGIS Online for collaboration, administration, and analytics. On top of that, this platform offers unique capabilities for using location-based analysis to improve your business.
  2. SuperGIS Desktop: A robust desktop GIS software that gives you the capabilities to analyze, visualize, manage, and edit geographic data. Then, you can exhibit the results on progressional-quality maps. It is easy to customize the application’s various functions for your needs. Plus, the platform supports various data types and offers sophisticated data processing tools.
  3. Simple GIS Client: A feature-packed GIS software platform that runs on MS Windows. Besides desktop, it is lightweight enough to be used on Windows tablets and laptops for tasks such as trip planning and field data collection. This app is recommended for editing and viewing shapefiles as it supports multi-user write and read access to shapefiles. The vendor offers a 30-day free trial.
  4. Bentley Map: 2D/3D desktop mapping and GIS software. You can create, maintain, share, and analyze your business, engineering, and geospatial data in a MicroStation environment. Offers a flexible yet strong application program interface (API) to help you build custom GIS applications. Use the mobile app to enhance the productivity of your field staff.
  5. Maptitude: A mapping software product from Caliper Corporation that allows you to view, integrate, and edit maps. It is an easy-to-use package that helps you enjoy the benefits of spatial analysis and desktop mapping. Maptitude tells you where your consumers are and find out where sales are maximum. On top of that, you can discover hidden opportunities and get answers to geographic questions that affect your operations.

Types of GIS Software

Geographic information tools can be classified into the following types:

  1. Open source GIS
  2. Web GIS
  3. Desktop GIS
  4. CAD GIS
  5. Business mapping
  6. GIS complements
  7. Mobile GIS
  8. General purpose GIS

Key Features of GIS Software

  1. Routing tools – These give the ability to design accurate stops and to manage, compare, and manipulate routes.
  2. Territory tools – Businesses need territory creation tools that help to handle data tables and to visually represent and manipulate service areas.
  3. Reports – Top GIS software applications enable you to intuitively and quickly create top quality reports in PDF and MS Excel file formats.
  4. Interoperability – Quality GIS platforms support the most recent data standards and a range of file formats including those for MS Excel, MS MapPoint, and Google Maps.
  5. Data – On top of that, they provide new data sets for different countries with access to the latest available geographic information.
  6. Logistics and Operations – A distance and drive-time feature that creates an Excel table showing the costs of travel between any number of locations. You can quickly find out the nearest and backup locations ranked by distance or travel time.
  7. Location analysis – This technique is used to identify ideal locations for new retail outlets.  

Benefits of GIS Software

  1. Decision making is improved because you get detailed as well as specific information about locations.
  2. You can increase efficiency and reduce expenses especially regarding scheduling timetables, fleet movements, and maintenance schedules.
  3. The visual format is easy to understand which helps to enhance communication between involved departments or organizations.
  4. GIS software enables effortless recordkeeping as it easily records geographical changes.
  5. Helps in geographic management as you can get to know what is happening in a geographic location and space, and use it to plan actions.
  6. Cloud GIS software solutions facilitate instantaneous collaboration.
  7. Offers enhanced transparency for citizen engagement.
  8. Enables identification of underserved and at-risk populations in a community.
  9. Helps in planning and allocation of resources.
  10. Improves management of natural resources.
  11. Enhances communication during a crisis.
  12. Finally, GIS software can be used to plan for the impact of demographic changes in a community.

Location as a Service

In the past, GIS was mostly used by oil and gas, utilities, telecommunications, and government sectors. This is changing and today tech companies and large retailers are enjoying the benefits of understanding and using geospatial data. The basics of GIS and its uses have improved significantly. Now, it is the age of services-based GIS. GIS professionals are connecting directly with consumers using web-based platforms that offer visualizations that are easy to access and understand.

Sophisticated Analytics

Businesses that place importance on location can benefit from spatial analysis. For example, geospatial analysis is useful for site selection. Retailers that want to launch new stores need information on hospitable demographics as well as on similar ventures that have proved to be successful. This information can be loaded on a map in order to do statistical analysis which can help to make decisions about the locations of new stores. Maps are easy to understand and GIS professionals can use web-based services to create charts, graphs, and maps, and effortlessly perform analytics.

Potential Issues

A recent survey by GIS Professional throws light on the issues faced by users of GIS software. In the survey, 32% identified data accuracy and 31% named efficient data management as main challenges. In addition, 12% named open source and open data as both a trend and a challenge. 8% named location privacy as an issue to be wary about.

The respondents also identified two other concerns: the high cost of proprietary software solutions and the use of GIS by people who do not have a proper understanding of the technology. The availability of open source data and software is creating new users who understand the advantages of GIS but lack the knowledge to use the system properly. This lay user group opens up a new market for GIS software vendors. However, these providers need to compete with free open source GIS alternatives that are preferred by companies that wish to reduce costs.

Useful Stats

  • The GIS industry is worth US$ 8.1 billion in 2020.
  • It’s growing at a CAGR of 12.4%.
  • The APAC region is the biggest driver of GIS industry growth, thanks to urban planning and smart cities in China and Japan.
  • Navigation is the biggest usage segment of GIS data.
  • Two of the top 3 key players in the GIS industry are Chinese.

Where Is GIS Data Useful?

  • Retail. Businesses in the retail industry use geographic information systems to find the perfect spot to erect a new store. Meanwhile, marketers use GIS data to identify which areas need a specific type of marketing and which stores can be tapped for maximum impact. Supply-chain departments can also use GIS to plan optimum routes and times for logistics.
  • Engineering. GIS provides data for the establishment of communication network towers, power plants, and other public utility infrastructures like roads, rails, and waterways.
  • Science. Biologists use GIS to monitor animal migration and study them even while they’re on the move. Geologists can map out geographical features for natural resource management, such as for prospecting in mining. Marine ecologists also use it to look at marine ecosystems and oceanographic charting.
  • Disaster management. Governments worldwide use GIS to formulate an effective response to natural disasters, like earthquakes or hurricanes. Meteorologists also use GIS data to spot and forecast climate and weather patterns, mitigating the cost of a disaster.

List of Geographic Information Systems - GIS Companies

Order by:

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Product name:
Category:
Smart Score:
Price:
User Satisf.
User reviews:
Google Places reviews

Google Places

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
By quote
94%
Google Maps API reviews

Google Maps API

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
$2
95%
Google Earth Pro reviews

Google Earth Pro

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
Free
89%
Esri ArcGIS reviews

Esri ArcGIS

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
By quote
97%
ZeeMaps reviews

ZeeMaps

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
$19.95
93%
Google Beacon Platform reviews

Google Beacon Platform

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
By quote
88%
GeoServer reviews

GeoServer

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
Free
98%
Mapline reviews

Mapline

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
$30
88%
ArcGIS Enterprise reviews

ArcGIS Enterprise

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
By quote
97%
AutoCAD Map 3D reviews

AutoCAD Map 3D

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
£228
96%
Oracle Spatial and Graph reviews

Oracle Spatial and Graph

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
$360
97%
Azure Maps reviews

Azure Maps

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.5
$0.50
95%
Surfer reviews

Surfer

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.3
$50
100%
LandVision reviews

LandVision

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.3
By quote
96%
Bentley Map reviews

Bentley Map

Geographic Information Systems - GIS
8.6
By quote
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Things to consider when you invest in a SaaS

To select a suitable SaaS vendor you need to consider key criteria such as privacy and security, support and service, and transparency.

Find out if the vendor can be trusted with data security and privacy. Do they have processes in place to safeguard your private information and data? Find about the security measures they use. This is an important feature of a SaaS application that cannot be over-emphasized.

It is crucial that the vendor offers reliable support to resolve any problems quickly. Ask your potential providers the following queries: Do they offer consulting and training services to help your employees to utilize the system competently? Do they have an online support center that has helpful articles and training materials? What channels of support do they offer? Do they track issues till they are resolved? Is customer satisfaction measured?

Does the SaaS provider conduct their business in a transparent and open manner? You can find out by asking them for references you can contact. Talk to existing customers of the system to know about the quality of service provided. Does the provider make public the algorithms they use in the platform? Ask these questions to find a SaaS provider whom you can trust with your confidential customer and business data.

Frequently asked questions about Geographic Information Systems - GIS

What is the best GIS?

The best GIS is ArcGIS. It’s a robust geographical information system that uses maps for data extrapolation and analysis. It has powerful analytics for businesses to explore information and share insights, with complete contextual tools regarding spatial reasoning and mapping for any kind of industry.

What are the benefits of GIS?
  • Improved decision-making. You improve decision-making by using data from GIS to back it up.
  • Enhanced efficiency. GIS data can increase efficiency by reducing time and money spent on things like scheduling timetables, fleet movements, and maintenance schedules.
  • Conservation. Especially useful for the sciences, as GIS can aid in the management and husbandry of natural of resources.
  • Mitigates disaster and demographic impact. GIS enables identification of underserved and at-risk populations in a community. Finally, GIS software can be used to plan for the impact of demographic changes in a community and mitigate risk in case of natural disasters.
What are the features of GIS?

Data. GIS provides new data sets for different countries with access to the latest available geographic information.

Territory. Businesses need territory creation tools that help to handle data tables and to visually represent and manipulate service areas.

Routing. These give the ability to design accurate stops and to manage, compare, and manipulate routes.

Logistics. A distance and drive-time feature that creates an Excel table that shows the costs of travel between any numbers of locations. You can quickly find out the nearest and backup locations ranked by distance or travel time.

Reports. Top GIS software applications enable you to intuitively and quickly create top quality reports in PDF and MS Excel file formats.

Interoperability. Quality GIS platforms support the most recent data standards and a range of file formats including those for MS Excel, MS MapPoint, and Google Maps.

What is the easiest GIS to use?
  • ArcGIS. The best GIS software is also the easiest to use (and learn). Its mapping features are top-notch for research and educational purposes. Its capabilities can even be extended by a custom programming extension powered by Python.
  • MapBox. MapBox is a map creation software whose claim to fame is its easy integration. MapBox contains a variety of APIs so you can integrate it with functions, like routing, presented in a way that you can build innovative functions out of.
  • QGIS. QGIS isn’t just free but it’s also easy to use. Its user interface is one of the most user-friendly of its kind. It’s also compatible with a lot of database formats and even a competing GIS, ArcGis.
What is a good free GIS?
  • QGIS. QGIS is a cross-platform, user-friendly open-source geographic information system designed for viewing, editing, and analyzing geospatial data. This platform can handle multiple database formats and functionalities.
  • GRASS GIS. An OSGeo project, the platform works well for academic institutes and various commercial settings around the globe. Environmental consulting companies and government agencies can also take advantage of the open-source software to analyze location-based data and manage it efficiently.
  • FME Hub. FME Hub provides access to a variety of FME tools and a platform that anyone can use for their projects, including spatial and cartographic data. It’s a convenient and secure platform to store and reuse connected services.
Louie Andre

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. From pitch deck to exit strategy, he is no stranger to project business hiccups and essentials. He has been involved in a few internet startups including a digital route planner for a triple A affiliate. His advice to vendors and users alike? "Think of benefits, not features."

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Why is FinancesOnline free? Why is FinancesOnline free?

FinancesOnline is available for free for all business professionals interested in an efficient way to find top-notch SaaS solutions. We are able to keep our service free of charge thanks to cooperation with some of the vendors, who are willing to pay us for traffic and sales opportunities provided by our website. Please note, that FinancesOnline lists all vendors, we’re not limited only to the ones that pay us, and all software providers have an equal opportunity to get featured in our rankings and comparisons, win awards, gather user reviews, all in our effort to give you reliable advice that will enable you to make well-informed purchase decisions.

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