2.3.2. Geoprocessing and spatial analysis

GIS can be used to calculate, analyse, and manipulate spatial data to examine spatial relationships and to create new data (De Smith et al., 2007). Basic manipulations of geographic datasets such as extracting new information from existing layers or clipping specific geographic extents can be referred to as geoprocessing. Geoprocessing refers to the process of creating a new geographic data layer after the calculation of an input layer(s) (Wade and Sommer, 2006).

Spatial analysis is a central concept in GIS and refers to more complex calculations which have been developed from various quantitative methodologies outside of GIS and incorporated into GIS over time (Longley et al., 1999; Conolly and Lake, 2006; De Smith et al., 2007). Spatial analyses can be used to summarize and analyse the spatial properties of geographic distributions, to solve spatial problems through modelling, and finally, to aid in spatial decision making (Longley et al., 1999). Because this is a basic introduction to GIS, we will focus more on the geoprocessing aspects of GIS and touch briefly on more complex spatial analyses.