What is the Difference Between GIS and Geospatial?

Increased reliance on geospatial data and machinery is inevitable in today’s interconnected, globally-traded economy. Users are accustomed to accessing various online services, such as city maps, live navigation, connected landmarks and areas of interest, and order tracking. Despite its importance and widespread use, many people remain unaware of this relatively new technology.

People frequently confuse GIS and geospatial solutions, one of the most widespread misunderstandings. Although the two phrases are often used interchangeably, this article will explain their respective meanings and highlight their distinctions.

What’s the Difference Between GIS and Geospatial?

These two names are often interchanged because of their similarity and close definitions. This is understandable, given the close relationship between the two phrases and the fact that they are both very new to the English language.

While geospatial solutions cover a wide range of technologies and scientific subjects related to geography, “geographic information system” (GIS) refers to a singular, unique technology. One way of looking at it is that anything that may be labelled a geographic information system (GIS) is geospatial, but not everything that is geospatial is a GIS.


Geographical information systems are abbreviated as GIS. A geographic information system (GIS) is a type of geospatial technology that stores and organises data in a way that makes it possible to do various tasks with that data, including reference, storage, manipulation, analysis, and, most crucially, mapping.

The primary benefit or function of GIS is that it enables users to link a specific location with the features or things present there, allowing them to see and interact with maps in a way that gives considerably more data than would normally be available without GIS technology.


Geospatial is a catch-all phrase for the study and application of how geographic features occupy or are dispersed throughout space, whereas GIS refers to a specific type of technology. The term is so general that it serves no purpose except for designating a certain academic discipline. Geospatial is a concept best understood in two areas: data and technology.

Geospatial Data

Geographically-relevant information regarding physical locations is called geospatial data. Location and map data, topography, census data, geographic features, and information derived from postal codes are all examples of the great variety of information that can be classified here.

At its core, data consists of numerical representations of traits and information in the physical world. Putting these figures in geographical context allows us to learn more about and apply this information in various ways.

Geospatial Technology

Of course, “geospatial technology” describes everything that may be put to work in collecting, processing, storing, or displaying geographical data. Geospatial solutions include geographic information systems (GIS), geofencing, remote sensing, and GNSS tools like the GPS antenna in your phone.

The proliferation of such technologies is a natural consequence of the rapid development of relevant technologies. Everyone has a GPS-enabled mobile device that can access a wide range of paid and free mapping services to provide instantaneous directions to virtually any destination.

Where Do Geospatial Solutions Stand Apart From Related Fields?

Given the narrow scope of the term “geospatial,” this is a natural inquiry. How is it different from regular geography or spatial studies? The term “spatial” refers to any field that deals with “space,” making it even more inclusive than geospatial. Space can refer to the cosmos, the interior design of a place or building, or even the study of human anatomy, specifically the distances between various body parts. Similarly, geography is a wide field that encompasses all aspects of Earth’s surface and its natural features. The management, analysis, and interpretation of geographic data are where geospatial studies and practices stand out from the crowd.

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