Field Service Management

4 Best Free GIS Software for Your Business

By | 8 min read | Published

GIS software helps create, store, and display geographical data on digital maps.

If you’re a city planner, an environmental scientist, a land use planner, or anyone who works with location data, you already know how difficult it is to analyze geographic or geospatial data. But thanks to geographic information system (GIS) software, linking location maps to databases and creating visualizations of available geographic information is now easier than ever.

GIS software helps create, edit, analyze, store, and display geographic data on digital maps. It offers robust data visualization, multilayer mapping, spatial analysis, and pattern modeling capabilities. It also allows users to add and edit location details, acting as a centralized geographic data repository.

If you’re looking to buy a GIS solution within budget, why not start with a free tool first? With a free tool, you can assess software usability before deciding whether to purchase a paid version.

This article highlights the four best free GIS software solutions (listed alphabetically) based on user ratings and reviews. (Read how we selected these products.)

/See the full list of the best GIS software in Capterra’s software directory.
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1

Google Maps: Offers 3D Earth View for virtual maps

As a GIS application, Google Maps helps track locations, optimize routes, share maps, and locate specific areas. It’s also a desktop and mobile GPS mapping tool that offers street maps, satellite images, 360-degree panoramic views, route planning, and real-time traffic updates.

Google Maps acts as a route planner, giving directions for driving, public transportation, walking, and biking. Its Street View and 3D Earth View features help view places on maps virtually. Beyond navigation, Google Maps lets users add details about businesses, such as their operating hours, contact details, and customer reviews, by clicking the business location on the map.

Google Maps’ support options include FAQs and a knowledge base. It has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

*Analysis accurate as of March 2022
View Profile

Key Features:

  • Geographic maps
  • 3D imaging
  • Data visualization
  • Labeling
  • Map sharing
  • Spatial analysis
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

Free

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Store details on </span><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/227511/Google-Maps/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Google Maps</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/227511/Google-Maps/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></p>
2

LocationIQ: Supports reverse and forward geocoding

LocationIQ is a GIS tool that helps visualize location data on maps and convert it to street addresses using geocoding APIs. The software offers reverse geocoding to convert map coordinates into human-readable addresses and forward geocoding to convert human addresses into map coordinates. It helps users determine different address components such as street, city, and state, and find areas of interest such as restaurants and ATMs.

Using LocationIQ, users can create customizable static or dynamic maps with themes, colors, icons, and fonts as per business requirements. The tool comes with a direction and distance matrix that supports spatial analysis, allowing users to calculate the most efficient route as well as the duration of the route between coordinates.

LocationIQ offers chat, email, and phone support.

*Analysis accurate as of March 2022
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Key Features:

  • Map sharing
  • Spatial analysis
  • Map creation
  • Geocoding
  • Labeling
  • 3D imaging
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

$49 per month

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Billing information dashboard in </span><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/164206/LocationIQ/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">LocationIQ</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/164206/LocationIQ/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></p>
3

Measure Ground Control: Uses drones to collect data

Measure Ground Control is GIS software that also works as a drone deployment system to capture aerial shots and collect geospatial data. It streamlines map creation, flight planning, equipment management, mission planning, and inspections using a single platform.

With Measure Ground Control, users can create mission maps to automate drone operations, plan flights, and process image data using high-quality orthomosaic, 3D visualization, thermal imagery, and digital surface models (DSM). The software also allows users to store unlimited location data, upload files, and track activities to review missions.

Measure Ground Control offers email, phone, and chat support. It’s a web GIS tool and also has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices.

*Analysis accurate as of March 2022
View Profile

Key Features:

  • Geographic maps
  • Map creation
  • Map sharing
  • Image management
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Equipment tracking
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

$69 per user per month

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Dashboard view in </span><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/203091/Ground-Control/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Measure Ground Control</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/203091/Ground-Control/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></p>
4

QGIS: Provides a drag-and-drop interface for map creation

QGIS is open source GIS software that helps create, edit, visualize, and analyze spatial data. It streamlines map creation, data exporting, map labeling, and spatial analysis, among other operational tasks. It offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface to create multilayer maps that include components such as roads, rivers, protected areas, and buildings.

With QGIS, users can create customized maps and add titles, descriptions, sizes, fonts, and colors as per their business needs. They can also use its vector analysis functionality to make projections of geographic coordinates, convert spatial data, perform network analysis, generate spatial statistics, build picture histograms, compute the shortest routes, and monitor overlapping regions—all from a single platform.

QGIS offers email support, FAQs, and a knowledge base. It has a mobile app for Android and iOS devices. It also includes an API that enables integration with several third-party solutions.

*Analysis accurate as of March 2022
Best functionality
View Profile

Key Features:

  • Geographic maps
  • Map creation
  • Map sharing
  • Image management
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Equipment tracking
Trial/Free Version:
Free Trial
Free Version
Cost to upgrade:

Free

Device Compatibility:

Screenshot:

<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Layer panel in </span><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/185949/QGIS/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">QGIS</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span><a href="https://www.capterra.com/p/185949/QGIS/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Source</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">)</span></p>

How to choose the right free GIS software

When selecting a free GIS software solution, make sure you’re getting one with the right features. Here are a couple of things to consider before finalizing your purchase:

  • Business requirements: Before you shortlist a GIS software tool, analyze your business needs to understand the requirements of your end-users. The software you choose should be mapped with the current as well as future requirements of your business, including functionality, size, and adaptability.
  • Software interoperability: Your shortlisted GIS tool should be able to capture data from and transmit data to other internal as well as third-party applications. It will prevent your GIS data from becoming obsolete by keeping it updated.
  • Integrations: GIS software works along with other solutions, including maintenance management, customer information, and business asset management. To combine your geographical datasets with other applications, ensure your shortlisted software integrates well with your existing applications. The shortlisted GIS tool should also integrate with email and cloud storage platforms to facilitate sharing of maps and location data.
  • Upgrade cost: The pricing models of most GIS tools are based on the business size, number of maps generated, and desired features. If you want additional features, you’ll need to pay extra. Therefore, check the cost of upgrading the free version before selecting a solution.

Common questions to ask while selecting free GIS software

Choosing a free GIS software tool isn’t easy, but asking the right questions can help. Here are some key questions to ask software vendors before finalizing a decision:

What kind of limitations does the free software have?

Often free software versions don’t support unlimited users or the creation of multiple maps. Before investing, check if you can work with any such limitations.

What kind of support should I expect?

Free tools often have limited support services, while paid users get priority support. During software evaluation, check if the vendor you have shortlisted provides timely customer support to free users.

Does the free GIS tool offer mobile compatibility?

Most GIS tools allow complete vector edits on mobile devices. This streamlines GIS data analysis as well as editing procedures and ensures the availability of captured data on any device. Before finalizing, ask vendors if their free GIS tool is compatible with mobile devices.

How did we choose these products? We didn’t—you did

To find your ideal software match, you need information you can trust—so you can save time, stay on budget, and focus more energy on growing your business. It’s why we vet and verify all our user reviews and recommend only the tools endorsed by people like you.

In other words, our product recommendations are never bought or sold, or based on the opinion of a single individual—they’re chosen by your peers, reflecting the views and experiences of our independent base of software reviewers.


At Capterra, we objectively select and rank products based on a methodology developed by our research team. Some vendors pay us when they receive web traffic, but this has no influence on our methodology.

To be considered for this list, products had to:

  1. Have at least 20 unique product reviews published on Capterra within the past two years, with an average rating of 3.0 or higher as of March 3, 2022. We selected the four products with the highest ratings to feature in this article.
  2. Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
  3. Meet our GIS software market definition: “GIS software, or geographic information system, is a tool that helps businesses create, analyze, and display geographic data on digital maps. This tool is used by GIS specialists, city planners, environmental scientists, and law enforcement teams to analyze the spatial and geographical data. It enables collaboration between different business teams to add and edit asset and location details, thereby acting as a repository of asset data.”

“Best functionality” tool is identified based on the highest user ratings for functionality that a vendor received based on publicly available reviews as of March 3, 2022.

Disclaimer: We conducted this analysis based on reviews and ratings data as of March 3, 2022. In order to present the most up-to-date information, the product cards show real-time ratings. Please note that this means the ratings value in the product card may not reflect the ratings value at the time of analysis.

Product research for this article was contributed by Himanshi Arora.


Looking for Field Service Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Field Service Management software solutions.

About the Author

Barkha Bali

Barkha Bali

Barkha Bali is a writer at Capterra, providing expert insights to help small businesses identify the right software for their needs by analyzing user reviews data for the highest rated products in relevant software categories. She has worked in finance, lifestyle, education, and medical. With expertise in marketing and content strategy, Barkha’s work has been featured in Medium and educational websites. When not working, she can be found re-watching “The Office” or “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

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