What Can GIS Do For You?

Allison Arieff takes a look at some of the ways GIS and other data-visualization technologies can help to address urban problems.

"There's a staggering glut of empty space around the country right now, unused space that's not doing anyone much good. That in itself isn't new; what is unprecedented is our ability to visualize that data in an entirely new ways.

The ability to use G.I.S. (geographic information systems) to locate data spatially, for example, is one reason Barack Obama is president today. His campaign turned a database of voters and volunteers into a map and was able to strategize house by house about how to get those votes. More broadly, G.I.S. allows us to literally view our place both globally and in a hyperlocal context.

That level of specificity, both at the micro and macro level, is helping revolutionize the way we think about, plan for and design the space we inhabit (or abandon). A visual map can show us patterns of overbuilding, abandonment, mis- (or lack of) use; it can teach us something about our current tendency to overbuild."

Thanks to Franny Ritchie

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