Geographic Information Systems

A Geographic Information System is like other business intelligence systems, and is comprised of technologies that support the collection, analysis and management of spatial data (i.e. geographic locations, distributions, or areas). Spatial data are information about all aspects of space, and can be connected to other business information that is routinely collected.

Spatial relations tell us about distributions, connections, correlations, and sometimes causations between spatial data. These relationships can be compared over time to better understand changes and patterns. ​This means that GIS doesn’t just answer the question ‘where’, it can also answer the questions ‘what’, ‘who’, and ‘when’ – but most importantly it has the potential to answer the questions ‘how’ and even ‘why’.

A Geographic Information System makes possible the creation of one or more scale models of the world that allow you to understand spatial relationships, patterns/anomalies, or phenomena not otherwise visible through direct observation alone. Refer to Wiki GIS f​or more information.​

At Williams, GIS is supported in a dedicated lab, through the use of software, in classes, and by Instructional Technology staff.

Who can use GIS resources? All Williams GIS resources are available to faculty, staff and students.

Where are GIS resources located? To the degree possible, GIS resources are distributed throughout campus.

  • Jesup Hall, Room 201 (Analytics 24/7)
  • Jesup Hall, Room (new Analytics Lab)
  • Jesup Hall, Room 205 (GIS Lab – NOTE: The old GIS Lab in TBL-007 has been decommissioned)
  • Jesup Hall, Room 207*
  • Clark Hall, Room 001
  • Sawyer (CET) 269*

How do I access GIS resources? ArcGIS and other GIS software are licensed by the college and installed on all the computer lab PCs campus wide. In addition, QuantumGIS (QGIS) is available on computer lab Macs (while ArcGIS is only available for the PC, it can be run on a Mac by creating a Windows partition with Bootcamp). *Note that Mac computers (even with dual-boot Mac or PC) may not have hardware that is compatible with some commercially available GPS and field data collection devices.

Faculty and staff may request to have the software installed on their Williams owned machines.  Senior thesis students may request to have ArcGIS installed on their computer for the academic year.

How do I get GIS assistance? For assistance please email Cory Campbell or call 413-597-4318.

Other GIS Resources:

Courses using GIS or GIS Modules

Local Data Resources (on campus or VPN only)

  • Data from ESRI (ArcGIS), including national and global datasets for basemaps, demographics, infrastructure, etc. (\\files1\ESRIData)
  • Other basemap data specific to New England, MA, NY, CT, RI, VT and CO (\\files1\StateData)

Ready-Made Maps

 GIS Job Announcements!