Geographic Information Systems (or GIS) are computer systems that capture, store, displace and generate geographical information as maps or data. This geographical information takes the form of vector data, raster data or geospatial databases.
GIS allows the archaeologist to digitise and create datasets, generating information that can be shared with other stakeholders as vector data, raster images and maps.
GIS can be used to access and query the large and freely- available heritage datasets from the Irish government, like the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) and the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH). GIS can also be employed with computer-aided design (CAD) technology to view and create vector data relevant to a project or development. It can also be utilised to analyse and model real-world environments for the purpose of identifying or predicting the presence of archaeology.
GIS allows the archaeologist to bring together and compare different geographical datasets, created for different purposes, easily and in a cost-effective way, with the intention of informing archaeological research questions and mitigation strategies.
Archaeologists use many different GIS software packages. Using QGIS (a powerful open-source GIS platform) and other software, AMS employs GIS extensively on projects to view CAD drawings of proposed developments; compare these with previously recorded archaeological sites and monuments records or historical maps; view the product of remote sensing surveys like geophysical surveys, LiDAR or photogrammetry; and to generate maps showing these relationships.
AMS uses maps extensively to share information with clients and statutory authorities, and to illustrate strategy documents, reports and publications.