This article presents an overview of the development, capabilities, and utilization of geographic information systems (GISs). There are nearly an unlimited number of applications that are relevant to GIS because virtually all human interactions, natural and man-made features, resources, and populations have a geographic component. Everything happens somewhere and the location often has a role that affects what occurs. This role is often called spatial dependence or spatial autocorrelation, which exists when a phenomenon is not randomly geographically distributed. GIS has a number of key capabilities that are required to conduct a spatial analysis to assess this spatial dependence. This article presents these capabilities (e.g., georeferencing, adjacency/distance measures, and overlays) and provides a case study to illustrate how GIS can be used for both research and planning. Although GIS has developed into a relatively mature application for basic functions, development is required to more seamlessly integrate spatial statistics and models. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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