Over the past few weeks, before the start of Spring, I've been writing brief posts on the benefits of geospatial technology such as Geographic Information Systems. The reason was to convey the benefits which GIS brings to people without getting overly technical.
I have friends who have worked with Information Systems for many years but will admit their limited understanding of GIS. They fully appreciate the power of Google Maps but give little thought to what is involved in building it. "It's a map with lines and shapes". Similarly I once attended a digital conference on IoT, data analytics and sensor technology in which there was just one speaker on a geospatial topic. Afterwards the speaker admitted to me that people in these industries are yet to realise the massive range of potential uses which GIS and geospatial technologies provide.
So without further ado I'll briefly recap on some of the key benefits of GIS. The links to the original articles are included also.
1. Better Information Management - Today it's all about data and there's lots of it out there. Data analysis and the efficient integration of geospatial systems only happens when the people involved speak in the language of databases and queries or at the very least encourage it in the office place.
2. Managing Geographically - The main argument in support of GIS is that it's about putting a location on information. Thinking in terms of logical models, workflows and bottom lines is great. However, it's important to realise that the things, people and places which this information refers to has a location in the real world and therefore on a map.
3. Cost Savings and Efficiencies - Geospatial information provides annual cost savings and efficiencies estimated at $1.4 trillion in the USA while in a small country such as Ireland it's estimated that the information provides annual public sector savings and national time savings of around €370m. Imagine the savings and efficiencies which could be achieved by emerging countries which are at an earlier stage of growth.
4. Better Communication - In a world of ever changing technology and rapid transfer of information, communication needs to be as immediate and effective as possible. It's all about speed. Kids nowadays respond to symbols and buttons like never before and communication in the future workplace needs to reflect and accommodate this new way of visual thinking.
5. Better Decision Making - Discussions among decision makers often go in roundabouts - just ask your local politician. Already known facts are being repeated and reframed by various institutions but the issues remain. Unless debate is informed by locational information and based on the assessment of maps my opinion is that most decisions are less likely to be the best possible ones.
I'm a big believer in the power of geographic thinking and the skill involved in making a map and these posts are an attempt to convince people that GIS is the future.
To the majority of people maps are something they did back at school and something they use when they maybe want to find that café with the awesome frappuccinos. To me, when you bring all of the benefits together, GIS is the new wheel, it's the new PointPoint and it's about as close to understanding the world, it's people and it's issues as you can possibly get.
The world of data science is showing little mercy for certain industries and for this reason it's important that the geospatial industry sells these key benefits.
I hope you'll agree.