Whenever we check weather apps, consult Google Maps for traffic information, or geotag social media posts, we’re tapping into geospatial data. Insurance providers are using GEOINT to assess and mitigate risk for their customers. Retail businesses tap into geospatial data to optimize marketing, advertising, and inventory management.
We can visualize geospatial data in two ways. Vector data applies geometric shapes to show the location and shape of geographic features. Points and lines represent features like cities, roads, and waterways. This method is scalable, offers smaller file sizes, and is a great way to depict boundaries on maps. Raster data uses a scanned digital image or aerial and satellite images and leverages stair-stepping (a cell-based format) to report data as pixels or grids over an image.
Mapping During a Crisis
During times of crisis, communities need to be updated on conditions regularly and consistently. First responders and public officials will need (and contribute) essential data that will help those at the epicenter. Crisis mapping as a disaster response uses a variety of data sources and channels, including public and crowdsourced information.
Crisis mapping was first used after the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Responders started with infrastructure mapping and added different maps to create a resource that everyone and anyone could use.
There are a handful of different tools that you can use during the crisis mapping process:
- Mobile and web-based apps
- Participatory maps and crowdsourced event data
- Aerial and satellite imagery
- Geospatial tools
- Advanced data visualization
- Live simulation
- Computational and statistical models
Smart City Planning
Geographic information systems (GIS) are the backbone of smart city initiatives, providing location-specific information hypergranular and contextualized. GIS maps offer a visual way to convey complex data to those involved in the planning process with any and every level of technical knowledge — including smart city constituents. GIS also allows emergency response managers to predict and track elements like extreme weather and natural disasters.
Retail Business Growth
Businesses are also increasingly using geospatial data in conjunction with machine learning and artificial intelligence in several applications. For example, insurance companies show climate change and extreme weather events will increase or decrease the risk for specific geographical regions and adjust premiums accordingly.
Beacons, smartphones, and wearables are becoming ubiquitous in retail marketing strategies and can all be leveraged as geospatial tech that helps round out the customer experience. Retailers can get a comprehensive look at how shoppers move, how much time they spend in stores, which store locations they choose most, and other behavior that helps brands shape product development and brand expansion.
GIS and Geospatial in Other Industries
Transit and transportation systems in metropolitan cities all over the country use geospatial intelligence systems and technology to monitor the condition and progress of thousands of miles of underground and above-ground subway tracks. Drones with GPS capabilities are also used to check all conditions instead of manual inspectors traveling dangerous trails.
Utility companies also use geospatial technology. Municipal water providers use geospatial mapping to improve infrastructure and optimize location-based projects. GIS technology captures images that track water levels, environmental conditions, and weather patterns that may impact the water supply for communities.
Government organizations, as mentioned above, use geospatial technology in several ways. Detailed mapping information of cities and communities prioritize improvement projects and keep community members safe while doing so. The military has been relying on special technology for decades to protect the country and its assets.
Careers in Geospatial
You can go to school and learn the highly technical field of GIS, which is essential — but that’s not all you need to grow professionally. As you gain on-the-job experience, also look for opportunities to sharpen these skills, both hard and soft.
As GIS is applied to more and more industries, there are a variety of ways GIS professionals can approach a career. Along with developing technical skills, it’s crucial for your personal and professional growth to consider building non-technical and soft skills. Start by becoming a member of industry organizations like URISA or GITA to take advantage of the tools they offer and networking opportunities.
Whether you’re just starting your GIS career or you’re looking to make a change to find the perfect job, get in touch with our team. We are committed to providing services and platforms for geospatial solutions, specializing in city wayfinding, defense mapping, and integrated public transportation information. We can help you find a position that builds on-the-job knowledge while encouraging soft skill growth.