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What are the applications of GIS systems

What are the applications of geographic information systems? Following our discussion with Catherine Crook, we asked Floyd Bull to answer that question for us.

Geographic information systems and their applications

Geographic information systems
Visionary Marketing was interested to know more about the applications of Geographic information systems – image taken by Gaurav Jindal and touched up with Adobe Photoshop.

How did you get started with GIS?

During college, I saw geographic information systems as an opportunity that would lead to jobs after my studies. Throughout the first years, I began seeing all the applications that can be used and fell in love with GIS. 

My favorite part as a GIS analyst is working with different teams and with our customers. Each time they come to us with a project, there are different aspects to it. Each market requires critical thinking. This leads to what I love the most about geographic informational systems, which is how they impact your everyday lives. It is amazing how they can be applied to everything even when it is not expected.

There is a spatial component to the majority of our lives.

How do you solve real-life problems with GIS?

I worked for the city of Kirkland in Washington State. Their planning department wanted to know how the shadows on the interurban trail would be affected if they were to increase the heights of buildings. The trail is a walking and biking path through the city, which they hold very dear to them. I performed a shade analysis to see how much shade would go onto the trail during the year. In my report, I provided the city council with a full analysis and a YouTube video showing them hour-by-hour where the shade would be along the path. With this, they were able to see the impact of raising the buildings by ten feet and make a decision based on that analysis.

geographic information systems and video games

In video games, there is a spatial component too, since characters are moving along a given path. This is the case with games such as League of Legends, which is a MOBA – Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. With this application, you can see the optimal build while playing as well as see what others are using to counter your build.

GIS and the issue of climate change

Since climate change is a major problem impacting us all, one could use geographic information systems to help solve it. A lot of people getting into GIS work on the rise of seawater and how it can affect different areas. Sometimes people think of GIS as paper maps – we’ve moved past that. That was 90s GIS. Now we can do geographic information systems where we’re adding a Z-coordinate to it. We are looking at it in 3D, not just down on a map.

Geographic information systems
Geographic information systems definition by

Where do you see GIS in the next 5 to 10 years?

Mobile applications use real-time data to feed applications and show end users what’s going on. This makes it possible for maps to update instantly. I see it going in a data science route – looking at the data more and analyzing it. We as GIS analysts can get very much into the weeds of data – end users don’t care as much as we do about the nitty-gritty. But we can use geographic information systems to tell them a story that they can ingest in a much easier way. It has an impact on how we see climate change, hiking, golf, video games, baseball, or any other application. 


Jackson Rose

Jackson Rose

I am an Environmental Studies major at Seattle University and I worked as a junior content writer for ________ Je suis étudiant en études environnementales à l'université de Seattle et j'ai travaillé comme rédacteur de contenu junior pour More »


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