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
  • Jesup Hall, Room 205 (GIS Lab)
  • Jesup Hall, Room 207*
  • Clark Hall, Room 001 (Geosciences Lab)
  • Sawyer Library, Room 269* (CET Instruction Room)
  • Sawyer Library, open space near Room 269 (handful of PC and Mac workstations)

PCs have ArcGIS and other GIS software installed.

*Macs have QGIS installed.

How do I access GIS resources? Esri ArcGIS and other GIS software are licensed by the College and installed on all the computer lab PCs campus wide. In addition, 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 and independent study students may have their adviser request they be allowed to have ArcGIS licensed on their PC for the academic year (Mac users may install QGIS as needed).

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)

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

Refer to Mapping a Network Drive for instructions to access this data.

Ready-Made Maps

 GIS Job Announcements!