If you’ve ever wished you had a map that highlighted all the hiking trails in city limits or longed to see where all the libraries + voting polls are located — it’s high time you met GIS mapping. GIS mapping is a go-to, visual resource used by the City + County, local organizations, and passionate locals to help us discover data about places in our community.
So what exactly is GIS?
GIS (geographic information system) is a tool for gathering, managing + analyzing data. Maps are created through GIS software (like ArcGIS, Google Earth + more) to analyze physical locations and organize layers of info into visualizations in the form of maps + 3D scenes.
GIS is used by thousands of organizations, companies, and governments — think National Parks guiding visitors or environmental organizations sharing climate data. GIS is also used by cities to help their community learn about trends, specific locations + more. These maps allow people to communicate, perform analysis, share information, and even solve problems on a local and a global level.
How is it used locally?
Buncombe County has a website dedicated to GIS. On it, you’ll find mapping of school districts, parks, land use, cemeteries, farms + more. Explore Discover Buncombe, where you can input your address and find a list of properties, parks, pools, schools, libraries, crime + voting areas in and around your location.
The City of Asheville has its own GIS collection. The Asheville Map is a comprehensive map viewer that lets you toggle layers on and off to see street maintenance responsibility, bus routes, pipes, law districts, neighborhoods + more.
Map it out
If this article is inspiring your inner cartographer, here are a few interactive GIS maps to explore:
- Historic Landmarks Storymap | Take a tour through landmarks around the county.
- Climate Justice | Visualize and understand climate threats and resilience at local addresses.
- Park Finder | Check out nearby parks and their amenities.
- Farm Heritage Trail Map | Find farms protected under conservation easements and farms that are open to the public.