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What is GIS?

Vicki Hayward - November 10th 2016

At its core, GIS – geographical information system – is a modern extension of the traditional method of cartography and has, over time, grown and adapted to technological advancements, to complement the growing demand for digital solutions in the future of work.

Unlike traditional cartography, modern GIS utilises computer software, while linking and incorporating geographical features, to map, analyse and assess specific elements in real-time. Since its digitalisation, there has been no real limit to the amount of attribute data that can be added to a GIPS map, and through its evolution, it is now able to utilise analytics and statistics to present data – which traditional cartographic mapping is unable to do.

The modern application of GIS is increasingly wide-reaching. This adds to the growing demand for business leaders and experts of industry to look towards the implementation of this intuitive technology in their daily processes, to truly revolutionise the way they work.

How OnTrac use GIS

Our GIS mapping tool provides a single digital view of the world, and can be used to visualise a wide variety of asset information. We originally created a GIS mapping tool for use within the rail industry, and through our long-term work with our clients, we decided to embark on a new product.


The purpose of eTrac is to dramatically lower the risks and hazards to operatives working in the rail industry, by providing revolutionary digital track diagrams. Utilising geospatial asset information, eTrac generates schematic diagrams on demand, otherwise known as geomatics. The platform, which has recently been used to create 26,000km of digital diagrams for the UK rail network, bring together thousands of disparate data sets that exist in a multitude of formats, to provide a single view of the world. All data generated is controlled, and can be updated in real-time, using eTrac.

Click here to view the eTrac video.

The system can also be used to visualise, annotate and share asset information, imported from existing data warehouses. eTrac can also provide a very simple and efficient way to cleanse and maintain data using a simple drag and drop interface.

There’s even more to eTrac than you could imagine; to discuss the system with us in more detail, contact us today.

How can GIS be utilised in other industries?

With our extensive connection to the rail industry, utilising GIS through the creation of eTrac, specifically for the aforementioned clients, was a natural step for OnTrac. However, since then, we have also cast our field of vision to other areas of industry, and developed new, intrinsic links with a multitude of industry leaders and clients, to develop GIS and eTrac within their areas of expertise too.

Oil and gas

The oil and gas industry relies on a great deal of spatial data, necessary within each stage of the oil and gas life-cycle – from analysis, through to production. Implementing GIS would give users a more in-depth look at this spatial data, which could help transform their overall functions, allowing them to make better decisions when it comes to accident avoidance etc.

Ultimately, GIS standardises oil and gas processes and reduces technical uncertainty within projects, as well as facilitates the improvement of communication between different users, throughout different spatial locations.


Utilising GIS within pipeline management allows users to map spatial data from field sources, and put pipes in the best locations – in keeping with regulatory demands – as well as the demands of the environment and humanity, by using demographic attribute data. GIS allows users to determine the best course of action, in terms of when systems collect and process real-time data streams from sensors. Further to this, operational costs are reduced, and performance is increased, as users are able to know and understand networks of geospatial models better.

Highway agencies

GIS allows traffic management strategies to be carried out more effectively, by allowing operatives to manage real-time data – such as changing traffic conditions. While quite like its usage in rail, GIS can help with the management of physical assets and operations, both in the office and out in the field. It uses location data more effectively, and in turn, integrates with visual and analytical data, to help users plan their project more effectively.

How could you benefit from GIS?

The GIS market is not yet fully mature, therefore, even in industries where it could be completely revolutionary to the core processes, it’s not currently being utilised. However, its reach is potentially limitless, and could even benefit industries such as insurance and retail – i.e. areas you’d never expect to utilise GIS technology.

GIS can save time and money, while increasing employee productivity, as it automates a lot of processes that can waste time on projects. It allows for increased and better communication and collaboration between teams in different locations, and generates more revenue through its effectiveness, efficiency and peed.

OnTrac clients who have already benefited from the utilisation of both GIS and eTrac , have seen an increase in ROI and readily acknowledge that it is a smarter and more efficient way to compete in business.

If you’d like to discuss how GIS can help your company reap the bountiful rewards from this revolutionary technology, then contact us today.

About On:Trac

Welcome to Ontrac, a trusted IT Solutions company with a wealth of Industry experience in both the Private and Public sectors including Rail, Construction, Manufacturing, Energy and Local Government. We provide a full spectrum of Consultancy, Development and IT Support Services forming...
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