Earth:Geographic information systems in China

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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are becoming an increasingly important component of business, healthcare, security, government, trade, media, transportation and tourism industries and operations in China and GIS software are playing an increasing role in the way Chinese companies analyze and manage business operations.


When GIS first became widely available in the 1980s and 1990s, the only source of geographic data for China was paper maps. Several universities elected to undertake the huge task of digitizing this information so that other researchers could use it.

The two earliest projects were conducted by The Australian Consortium for the Asian Spatial Information and Analysis Network (ACASIAN) at Griffith University and the China Data Center at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. ACASIAN specialized solely in spatial coverages while the China Data Center included GIS coverages as a supplemented to their primary mission of providing Chinese statistical and census data.

There is a great deal of high quality GIS data being produced in China by both government organizations and private companies. Today, China's National Spatial Data Infrastructure Project, uses the WGS84 standard.

In 1991, China's first color Map Editing and Publication System, MapCAD.

In 1995, China's first National Advanced GIS Software, Computer based GIS, MapGIS.

In 2005, The fourth generation of large scale distributed structure GIS, MapGIS 7.0

In 2009, China's GIS new ero—MapGIS K9.

Geographic Names Information System

China in the early 1980s began studies for the establishment of its Geographic Names Information System (地名信息系统), Geographic Names Information System Research Laboratory and the establishment of the National Atlas of geographical names database research.


The China Association for Geographic Information System[1] (simplified Chinese: 中国地理信息产业协会; traditional Chinese: 中國地理信息產業協會; pinyin: zhōng guó dì lǐ xìn xī chǎn yè xié huì), Peking University and other institutes jointly sponsored the first "Innovation and Development, 2006 College GIS Forum", in Beijing. More than 300 experts and scholars attended the forum. Sessions involved China's geographic information system (GIS) research in multi-disciplinary fields, personnel training, and technology. China has now more than 500 institutions of higher learning training GIS-related professionals, of which more than 200 universities and colleges have established a GIS lab.[2]


The GIS industry in China is worth 400 billion yuan per annum as of November 2007. More than 300,000 people were involved in either building or using these systems, according to Zondy Cyber Group president Wu Xincai, who is also the president of the China Association for Geographic Information System. Almost 20,000 enterprises are estimated to have engaged in the industry. The biggest vendor of GIS in China is Zondy Cyber Group, followed by SuperMap. Around 2000 of these have GIS as a core discipline or function. The industry's rapid expansion is attributed to the country's economic development, which has led to an increase in capital input, from both government and businesses. Between 2001 and 2005 the Ministry of Information Industry allocated more than 20 million yuan to fund the development and application of GIS. GIS has been put to use in many spheres, including land survey, mineral exploitation, water conservancy and environmental protection. It also has applications in power generation, mapping, telecommunication, and the management of public administration and public services.

Notable persons

Prof. Chen Shupeng,[3] born in 1920, is considered the founding father of Remote Sensing and GIS in China, died on 25 November 2008.[4] Chen started the State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System (LREIS) in 1987.


Major institutions include:

Global navigation satellite system

  • BeiDou Navigation Satellite System is used for GIS data gathering

See also



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