The main components of GIS are:
Computer Software Modules: It includes the programs and an interface, which can be used for driving the hardware. The GIS software module is a very important component as it is responsible for generating, storing, analyzing, manipulating and displaying the data or geographical information. User friendliness, compatibilities, documentation and cost effectiveness are the qualities of a good software module. The producers and the main products of GIS Software are the following:
- Environmental Systems Research Institute ( ESRI ): ArcInfo, ArcView.
- Autodesk: AutoCAD Map
- Clark Labs: IDRISI
- International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences: ILWIS
- Mapinfo Corporation: Mapinfo.
- Bentley Systems: Microstation.
- PCI Geomatics: PAMAP
- TYDAC Inc. : SPANS
Computer Hardware Module: The computer or Central Processing Unit is the general hardware component of the GIS. It is attached to a disk drive storage unit, used for storing data and program. Other devices like digitizer, scanner are used for converting the data, which is available in the form of maps and documents, into digital form and send them to computer. Along with it a kind of display device or a plotter is used which presents the result of the data processing. And a tape device is used to store data or program on magnetic tape.
Data: It is the most important component of the system. It can be purchased from a commercial data provider or collected in house or compiled to custom specification. The key functionality of GIS is integration of spatial and tabular data stored in DBMS.
People: GIS technology is useless without people power. GIS has wide range of users from specialists who design it to the end users. The identification of specialist's vs. end users, known as 'brain ware', is important for proper implementation of GIS technology.
Method: The right method is a key for successful operation of GIS technology. The well-designed implementation plan and business rules are unique to each organization.
Generally GIS is considered to be expensive and difficult but with the advent of new technology like graphical user interface, powerful and affordable hardware and software it is gaining grounds and is slowly getting included in mainstream use.