Millions of organizations around the globe, covering nearly every industry or field you can imagine, are using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. With GIS, these organizations create digital maps that organize location-related data into layers that reveal patterns and relationships to help people make informed decisions and solve complex problems. There are innumerable ways organizations are using GIS. Here are three widely used applications that help show the technology's diverse use case scenarios.
GIS technology is a vital tool for city planners. Cities and towns are constantly changing. They acquire new land, plan new projects, improve infrastructures, renovate older neighborhoods, and much more. It layers large amounts of data necessary to balance governmental, residential, and commercial priorities to solve complicated problems and optimize land use for growing populations.
Digital maps help urban planners explore solutions. For example, they can use demographic data to plan the best location for a new public park, post office branch, or middle school. It can help entrepreneurs analyze different locations for the best location to start a new business or help utility companies plan gas, sewer, and electric line placement. There's no limit to the varied uses GIS has in urban planning.
The public health sector was an early adopter of GIS solutions. GIS allows healthcare organizations to present information such as hospital locations, healthcare resources, population density, poorly served regions, and much more in a visual way that is easily understood. Public health organizations can track childhood immunization statistics as well as regions with a high incidence of certain chronic diseases.
One major use is in epidemiology. GIS can help public health officials track sources of disease and identify at-risk populations so they can more effectively respond to disease outbreaks. The technology has proved especially useful for tracking the spread of COVID-19.
Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions affect all corners of the globe. Although in most cases they cannot be prevented, the response efforts are crucial to the recovery of the areas affected. GIS technology has proven invaluable to those efforts.
Large-scale disasters require a great deal of data about the regions affected, infrastructure, and resource requirements. GIS technology provides a framework for collecting and analyzing information about the disaster. It helps improve response times, analyzes the needs of the affected populations, and improves communication and collaborations among disaster relief organizations. The technology can also be used for predicting areas likely to be impacted by certain natural occurrences so that early warning signals can go out to those people likely to be affected.
These are just three examples of the myriad uses of GIS technology. As with most technological innovations, it will likely continue to improve and bring even more benefits to all who implement its solutions.