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I'm in the process for creating the GIS content for our new company website. So far, I am having some serious issues. GIS is a complicated subject. First off, most people coming to our website won't have any idea of what GIS is. Conveying this information is a task in itself. So far I've got a few ideas:

  1. A geographic information system (GIS) lets us visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends. GIS is becoming essential to understanding what is happening and what will happen in any given geographic space. Once we understand, we can prescribe action.
  2. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computerized tool for mapping and performing analysis. GIS has changed the way we view the geographic world in which we live and the way information is transmitted.
  3. GIS (Geographical Information System) is a computer system capable of capturing, storing, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced information; that is, data identified according to its location. Our GIS helps us with many natural resource-based management projects, such as watershed studies, constraint mapping, and forest management plans.
  4. GIS (Geographical Information System) is the way to understand the natural world around us in the present and future. GIS is the new form of cartography, taking it to a whole new level. With GIS you can predict floods, identify natural areas in danger, find the best habitat for endangered species, plan cities into the future and communicate all of this information in a way that everyone can understand.

Next I work on relating it to our company, but that part is a little easier. Our company is a conservation authority in Ontario. Our main goals in the GIS department are to support our municipalities, manage flooding risks, protect the environment (animals and habitat) and help land owners with stewardship.

Basically I need some help from the GIS Pros on here to help me convey a good way to communicate what GIS is (in one paragraph) to a the non GIS population. I'll take links, edits, fresh ideas anything you guys have.

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    Could you please supply some details on the type of company and the target audience? These helpful pieces of information may help give an audience-specific definition. – Aaron Sep 26 '14 at 13:13
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    I would go for as simple and short as possible for the general definition, and transition as quickly as possible into what your company does in particular (idea #3). Also, include Impressive Maps -- graphical display of the concept you've just described will give them context ("Oh, things on a map!") and improve their understanding. – Erica Sep 26 '14 at 13:14
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    I would begin by presenting things in maps: flooding events, river basins, whatever you have that is relevant to your organisation. Then build up from there, making the case about the value of location in intelligent decision making and the value of interactive maps as means to convey information to a broader audience – plablo09 Sep 26 '14 at 14:42
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    I would emphasize up front that GIS is pretty much just a map that is a database, and vice versa. "A map whose features come from data that can be reused in other maps" "A database whose records are stored with geographic coordinates and are accessed through a map interface" Something like that, and then, like the other commenters say, go into what that means for your company. – mr.adam Oct 7 '14 at 18:32
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I partly agree with @Ari Isaak. Some of the clients don't want a lesson. In your place, I would mention GIS and make a subpage from that page, which elaborates the terms. Some clients will take their time and would like to learn a little about the concept of GIS, particularly, the structure of the product they're about to purchase. I would make a brief explanation how GIS works on an other page with nice figures, like the one below:

Nice figure from NatGeo Source: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/media/photos/000/322/32282.jpg

If you must go with the one paragraph concept, I would mix the second and third idea, e.g.:

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a computerized tool for mapping and performing analysis. Our GIS helps us with many natural resource-based management projects, such as watershed studies, constraint mapping, and forest management plans.

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Skip the description and focus on past successful deliverables. They want to know that you can solve their problem. They don't want a lesson.

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