Mobile GIS Background, Components, and Benefits

Mobile GIS Background, Components, and Benefits

Mobile Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have revolutionized the way we collect, analyze, and utilize spatial data in various fields ranging from urban planning to environmental management. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the background, components, and numerous benefits of Mobile GIS.


Traditional GIS systems primarily operated on desktop computers, limiting accessibility to spatial data to stationary locations. However, with advancements in technology, the integration of GIS into mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets has become increasingly prevalent. This shift towards Mobile GIS has democratized spatial data access, allowing professionals to gather and manipulate geographic information in the field in real time.

Mobile GIS Background

Components of Mobile GIS

1. Mobile Devices

Mobile GIS relies on portable devices such as smartphones, tablets, and ruggedized handheld computers equipped with GPS receivers, accelerometers, and other sensors necessary for location-based data collection.

2. GIS Software/Applications

Specialized GIS software or applications are installed on mobile devices to facilitate data collection, visualization, and analysis. These applications often offer features such as map display, data editing, GPS tracking, and spatial analysis capabilities.

3. Connectivity

Mobile GIS applications leverage wireless connectivity options such as cellular networks, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth to access online mapping services, synchronize data with centralized databases, and communicate with other users or devices in real time.

4. Data Sources

Mobile GIS integrates various data sources including satellite imagery, aerial photographs, geographic databases, and crowd-sourced information to provide comprehensive spatial insights.

Benefits of Mobile GIS

1. Increased Efficiency

Mobile GIS enables field workers to collect and update spatial data directly in the field, eliminating the need for manual data entry and reducing the risk of errors. This streamlined data collection process enhances operational efficiency and decision-making.

2. Real-Time Data Collection

With Mobile GIS, users can capture spatial data in real-time, allowing for immediate analysis and response to dynamic environmental conditions or emerging situations. Real-time data collection enhances situational awareness and supports timely decision-making.

3. Enhanced Accuracy

The integration of GPS technology in Mobile GIS ensures accurate positioning of data points, enabling precise mapping, asset tracking, and navigation. Improved accuracy leads to more reliable spatial analysis and informed decision-making.

4. Remote Accessibility

Mobile GIS extends spatial data access beyond the confines of office environments, allowing users to access and manipulate data from remote locations. This remote accessibility facilitates collaborative work, field surveys, and emergency response activities.

5. Cost-Effectiveness

By utilizing existing mobile devices and wireless networks, Mobile GIS eliminates the need for specialized hardware and infrastructure investments. This cost-effective solution makes GIS technology accessible to organizations of all sizes, including those with limited resources.

For the position determining equipment (PDE) –

the location of the mobile GIS is usually coupled with Global Positioning System satellites (GPS) and wireless communication to facilitate exchanges between the existing spatial server and the mobile devices. While the mobile end-user devices – the client (see figure above), emphasize the client devices utilized in the field. Users can use a full range of client devices for mobile GIS, including mainstream laptop computers with the computing power of a PC, PDA or Pocket PCs with smaller screens, and cellular telephones with smaller displays, simple input devices, and limited processing power.

There are two main ways to access and use GIS data and function on mobile and wireless devices which are online, with real-time access to service/corporate data, and offline, where data is downloaded and used without a real-time connection to a server/corporate database Then the telecommunication service providers-communication networks side (see figure above) which is the part of wire-line or wireless communication networks.

The internet-enabled Devices rely on the wireless network to transport information. Furthermore, different wireless networks have different transmission rates. Then the last is the GIS content provider-the server-side (see figure above) where it serves data and applications to the user for example it offers location information content and information processing services. Typically a GIS content provider includes the GIS server (with GIS content), Information Processing Services, and Gateway services.

There are a few benefits of the usage of mobile devices such as:

  • Increased productivity due to less driving
  • Increased flexibility
  • Improved accuracy of data
  • Access to relevant datasets
  • Smarter decision making
  • Enhance field worker safety

Read More: The Best Spy Apps for Android and iPhone


Mobile GIS represents a paradigm shift in the field of geographic information, empowering users to harness the power of spatial data anytime, anywhere. By leveraging mobile devices, specialized software, and wireless connectivity, Mobile GIS offers increased efficiency, real-time data collection, enhanced accuracy, remote accessibility, and cost-effectiveness. As technology continues to evolve, Mobile GIS will play an increasingly vital role in driving innovation and informed decision-making across diverse industries.