Key Components of GIS: Hardware, Software, Procedure, Data & Users (Especially for GATE-Geospatial 2022)

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The GIS consist of five key components:

  1. Hardware
  2. Software
  3. Procedure
  4. Data
  5. Users
Knowing the 5 Basic Components of GIS

The components of GIS are interconnected. The linkages are well established as shown below:

Interlinkage Among GIS Components

Here is brief detail on individual element of GIS:


It consists of the computer hardware system (physical components) on which the GIS software runs. The type of hardware explains the speed and load of the software. The hardware for GIS includes:

  • Digitizers
  • Scanners
  • GPS receivers
  • Storage devices like magnetic tapes and disks, CD ROMs and other optical disks
  • Central processing units
  • Monitors
  • Plotters


Software refers to the programs that runs on computers. These programs can either manage the computer or aim to perform specific functions. The software used must match the needs and skills of the end users. Some of the popular GIS Software are:

  • Vector-based GIS – ArcGIS, ArcView, MapInfo
  • Raster-based GIS – Erdas Imagine, IDRISI


The procedures that validate and determine quality of final output involves input, analyze, and query of data. A computer system for GIS includes procedures aimed to capture, store, process, analyze, model, and display geospatial data.


Users are most important part of GIS. User is one who uses the GIS applications or software. Users define and develop the procedure and select relevant information to set necessary standards. User aims to overcome shortcoming of the other four elements viz. , data, software, hardware and procedure. Role of user is to:

  • Establish standards
  • Set updates
  • Work on analysis
  • Implement software


Data is the information used within GIS. Data can be either geospatial or attribute.

  • Spatial Data: Explains visual representation of geographic data (in form of raster and vector)
  • Attribute Data: Explains descriptions, measurements and classifications of geographical features in map and is usually depicted as table or hierarchy.
Understanding Differences between Spatial & Attribute Data

The GIS enables integration of both spatial and attribute data. The GIS data is handled in databases with special functional requirements & general characteristics of any standard database. For example, Maps, aerial photographs, satellite images, statistic tables, etc.

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