GIS and You

Map showing attribute table for the Samples topic layer

Advances in mobile GPS devices have now made it possible to easily record GPS locations along with the associated feature information to be fed to a Geographic Information System (GIS). So you’ve gained a general understanding of GPS and know how to use your mobile device to acquire and record GPS data. You’ve also learned how to add descriptive or numeric attributes to the GPS Features. And you’re probably exporting the field data to a mapping software to analyze the data and to produce reports and an informative map for your project. But what actually is your project about? And where else can you apply your GIS skills?

A very popular area of GPS/GIS application is forest land management. GIS-grade GPS data collectors have made it easy to navigate around a timber stand and record the Area Feature and record the timber stumpage along with any remarks and descriptions. A modern mobile device with a color display will let you see exactly where you are located on the background topographic map or aerial photo. For large management projects, you can bring in data collected using a number of data collectors and combine them in the same job file in the desk-top mapping software.

Farmers and fruit growers are using software to layout the plots and plan their crops before the actual planting.  They also keep the fertilization and harvest information in a database for  optimization analysis. Wildlife specialist use GPS/GIS to track animals and invasive plants in the wilderness. Governments employ GIS in epidemiology and in studying insect infestations in forests. They also conduct air-borne surveys to collect GPS/GIS data for military reconnaissance and natural resource management.

More and more cities, airports, schools as well as oil and gas companies are utilizing GPS/GIS to help inventory and manage their assets. They now have at their tips all the information that previously required tedious manual entries and were prone to recording and transcription errors.

GIS is not just for the military and civilian professionals. When you engage in geo-caching or orienteering, you are making use of GIS.  When you look up a travel destination on Google Maps, you are making use of GIS. In fact GIS could be used to advantage in almost every aspect of life that you can think of. The blog post at this link shows an interesting video about how, armed with GIS data, one could even choose where to live for the sake of one’s health (I must add, if one could afford to do so).

GIS has elevated our awareness of where we are with respect to  our immediate environment to the realization that our location represents but one coordinate point on the map of the world, and yet the sample that our particular data represents contributes to and impacts the entire population data set.

How are you using GIS on your job or in your leisure time? Please share your interesting application stories with your fellow earthlings.


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