Interactive GIS Maps

Today, we take most digital GIS maps for granted without even thinking about their incredible interactive capabilities. A traditional map can be beautifully done, but it lacks dynamics and is limited in time and space; such a card simply functions as a frozen photo. It doesn’t compare well with, say, Google Map, which allows you to:

  • move the map to any area;
  • enlarge the image up to a single building;
  • switch layers (political, physical map, street view);
  • click on different objects to find out what they represent (to identify them).

A typical interactive GIS map will show more than can be grasped by the eye. It additionally provides the user with detailed, current and accurate Field data collection. Let’s consider the most interesting interactive tools of GIS mapping systems in more detail.

Search Queries

Most GIS mapping systems have a search function that is effectively a data filter. It shows parcels / areas that correspond to a specific area of ​​interest (AOI), with a common parameter or the same number . The search is carried out by entering / sending a request – so the system can understand what properties it needs to highlight.

Information on a given area of ​​interest

If the interactive GIS map seems too large and confusing, scaling the displayed information to indicate a specific area of ​​interest can help . For example, you can outline the area of ​​interest. Another way is to enter certain parameters, and then the system will highlight the area of ​​interest automatically. Either way, it will be easier to work with the highlighted area.

Measurement & Distance Tools

Previously, it was necessary to apply a ruler to measure the distance between two points on the map. It was necessary to constantly strain your eyes to see small divisions and determine the values ​​accurately. It’s time to forget about it. Good GIS software has an interactive set of measurement and distance measurement tools at your fingertips.

Search By Layers

Switching layers can be fun, but there isn’t always enough time for fun. In this case, it will be faster to use the search for specific parameters or values ​​of interest. An elaborate digital GIS map system includes a layer search tool and automatically produces a layer with the data you are looking for .

Printing GIS Maps

That’s right, sometimes you even need to print a digital GIS map so that users have a paper copy, for example, in PDF format. However, it is likely that this feature will soon become obsolete due to its unnecessary nature, as most GIS maps are available to users in web applications, and the number of them is constantly growing.

What Else?

Of course, GIS analyst is not limited to the impressive interactive features listed above. Mapping tools always allow you to select specific niches for solving highly specialized tasks . In this sense, the range of applications for interactive digital GIS maps is incredibly wide, and the technology continues to evolve.

GIS Software: Basic Components

As stated above, GIS mapping tools differ depending on the niche in which they are used and the type of task at hand. However, they all have three components at their core:

  • legend;
  • information window;
  • toolbar.

A good GIS software must include all three components, and here’s why.


The GIS map is interesting even with a cursory view due to a wide range of colors, shades, shapes of different sizes. It is pleasing to the eye, but how to understand what all these data mean on a verbal level? This is why all GIS services must have a legend with a complete list of displayed parameters (in numerical or text format), along with their visual correspondences, such as symbols or class divisions.

Information Window

Sometimes a legend alone is not enough to fully understand the contents of a map. Again, the interactivity of GIS tools becomes a huge advantage over conventional maps. To get specific information about an object, just click on it with the mouse – and the information will appear in a pop-up window .


Last but not least, the toolbar is a toolbar that allows users to access interactive GIS mapping tools such as image scaling, location search functionality, and more.

GIS Mapping In Practice

In order to make decisions, specialists need up-to-date and complete data. GIS software is the clearest way to visualize meaningful data, providing users with the essential information they need to solve a problem. A GIS map can:

  • show location, quantity, density;
  • identify objects by the selected area of ​​interest;
  • track changes and more.

Visual Comparison

The simplest use of a GIS map that immediately comes to mind is to highlight the specifics of features in the form of points to show their exact location. When a person sees how certain objects are located, he can identify certain patterns and trends, and this helps to better understand the dynamic changes in data. For example, the map below shows where and which companies are mining diamonds in the South African Republic; each company is depicted in a specific color. The mining industry is among the many industries that can make the most of GIS technology.

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