Anyone who has ever tracked down driving directions on the Internet has used a geographical information system. At its simplest level, Geographic Information Science (GIS) can be thought of as high-tech mapping, but the complicated software and the people who work with it are responsible for so much more than simply creating a map. GIS professionals use information about geographical features to assess real-world problems and provide solutions.
GIS uses digital technology to help people work with geographic information. GIS professionals acquire, manage, analyze, visualize, and represent geospatial data, or information related to geographical locations. This relatively new discipline incorporates geography, cartography, spatial analysis, and fields such as geovisualization, geodesy, geocomputation, cognition, and computer science.
GIS comprises four aspects:
- The data used to create useful information
- The software that assembles that information
- The hardware that serves as the workstation
- The people who work with all of these elements
Geographical information systems capture, edit, store, manipulate, and analyze a variety of data that are used to create a display such as Internet mapping sites. GIS professionals are responsible for compiling the data and presenting it in an understandable, visual form like a map or text directions.
The key component in GIS is geography - information about the earth and the objects found on it. Its use has billion-dollar implications for businesses and governments. It can be used for choosing school sites, targeting market segments, planning distribution networks, responding to emergencies, or redrawing government boundaries. GIS specialists make devices that view and analyze data from a geographic perspective. They link locations to information, such as people to addresses, buildings to parcels of land, or intersections within a city grid system.
The GIS field began in the second half of the 20th century, when computer programmers discovered that maps could be made by changing data into code. For generations cartography had changed little, but the addition of computers, aerial photography, satellite imagery, and improved data-collection techniques have provided an almost infinite amount of geographical data. The vast amount of information now available must be managed and presented in an understandable fashion to the people who need it.
Muslims Engaging the Other and the Humanum
Call unto to the path of your Lord with wisdom, and good counsel, and engage them by those means which are the finest.'(Q. 16:125)
How do Muslims engage the religious other  in a world that increasingly defies geographical, political, religious and ideological boundaries? This is a world where the âenemyâ is often the internal self (e.g., the Saudi/Iranian/Sudanese regime or the Shi'ite/Qadiani/modernists) and the asylum provider the external other (Christian relief organizations, Amnesty International / your non-Muslim neighbor, etc). How do Muslims respond when we come face to face with the humanum, the essentially human, and its manifestation in lives of a tireless quest for compassion and commitment to justice that the other may lead? How do the various forms of engagement with the other facilitate or…