What are the various components of a Geographical Information System (GIS)?

GIS is a computer based database management system for analyzing and processing spatial datasets. There are multiple components that constitute a functional GIS system. To get a good understanding of GIS, one needs to understand the different components of GIS.

In this article, we will learn about what are different components of GIS, and what are the functionalities of each component.

Components of GIS

GIS comprises five different components, namely, 1) Hardware 2) Software 3) Data 4) Methods and 5) People. We will discuss each component one by one.

GIS Hardware

Various data input and output devices with which users at various levels interact can be termed as GIS hardware. GIS hardware consists of various computer components such as CPU, monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer etc. Monitor and printer are used for output information, while CPU, keyboard, mouse and various scanners are used for inputting information into GIS.

GIS Software

Various methods and functions that are required to process the data and produce various information are available to the users from GIS software. There are many GIS software available for accomplishing various tasks related to different applications. Depending on the requirement and other criteria one may choose the GIS package accordingly.

Some of the popular GIS software packages include ArcGIS, Quantum GIS, ERDAS Imagine etc.


Data can be considered as the heart of GIS. Spatial data present in various forms and types can be processed using GIS. This spatial data can be collected through manual techniques such as surveying and placed inside GIS using various data input techniques. Sometimes, it is also possible to create and produce data in GIS itself. Data in GIS is represented in different forms such as raster, vector etc.


Methods are the functions that are acted upon various spatial data to produce relevant spatial information. These methods are generally inbuilt in a GIS package. However, it is also possible to develop custom methods for processing the datasets.


People in GIS comprise GIS developers, GIS users and end users. Depending on the level of the user, the interaction with GIS varies. End people normally don’t have any direct interaction with the GIS. They simply use the produced information such as maps or tables etc. Whereas GIS developers work towards improving the functionality and user experience of the GIS package.

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