Why is GIS popular?

There are a series of fundamental reasons why organizations deploy GIS technology. They include:

Creating efficiency. Organizations can save save money, time, and eliminate redundancy. One of the best examples of this is the application of GIS technology to transportation logistics, where it has been demonstrated that somewhere between 15 and 30 percent of the costs of logistics are eliminated. Organizations such as FedEx, Sears, and Schindler Elevator, who regularly dispatch fleets of trucks and vehicles into the field, have consistently shown improvements in their services and greatly reduced their costs. At the same time, they have contributed to reducing traffic and air pollution.

Improved decision making. The ability to visualize and analyze geographic information has improved the way individuals and organizations make their decisions. GIS has the ability to integrate and analyze multiple factors for a given geographic area and easily communicate this information back to individuals and teams. This provides insight into the data that is necessary to make good decisions and create better outcomes. Examples of places where decision making has been improved are almost endless, and include land use and conservation planning, disaster response, security and defense, and commercial real estate and marketing.

Managing complex planning. Geographic planning of all sorts involves the ability to bring together large volumes of geographic information and integrate it, analyze it, and use it systematically for creative design. Geographic planning is probably best exemplified in urban, regional, and transportation planning. Here, GIS provides a systematic framework for bringing all of the information together for supporting designers and carrying out complex workflows associated with creating and implementing these plans. In many situations, it’s simply not possible any other way.

Communication. Maps have always been a form of universal language. In the digital world, they are improving how organizations communicate internally and how they communicate with their constituents, customers, and the public in general. They are capable of communicating complex scientific and technical information almost instantly and, as such, facilitate improved human interactions in many settings. Maps created by a GIS can be thought of as a new language that is helping to create a common understanding and building consensus in the decision-making process.

Science and understanding. GIS is a tool of science and, as such, is evolving along with our understanding of geography and all that it describes. GIS allows users to bring together, overlay, model, and visualize phenomena, and create better understanding of situations. Examples are in social science, climate, physical sciences, biology, ecology, hydrology, and, more importantly, how all of these factors relate to human settlements and human health. There is a growing need for better understanding of every aspect of managing our resources, and GIS provides a powerful framework for this.

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