Essentially, the merging of cartography, statistical analysis, and database technology (K.-T. Chang 2014). The critical functionalities of any GIS package are: data capture, storage, management, retrieval, analysis, and display. See Eldrandaly (2007) Applied GIS 3, 5, 4 for a really useful guide to the different types of GIS package, and their strengths and weaknesses. See C. P. Lo and A. Yeung (2007) on GIS and spatial problem-solving.
M. Cope and S. Elwood, eds (2009) explain that qualitative GIS aims to look at how individuals understand space and what the impacts of these understandings are for the production of socio-spatial relations. For an example, see Verd and Porcel (2011) Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research 13, 2 on the way qualitative GIS was used to study the social production of urban space. A geographic resources analysis support system is a free, open source GIS capable of handling raster, topological vector, image processing, and graphic data (K.-T. Chang 2014).