Though traditionally the realm of planners trying to make land use decisions, GIS tools are increasingly being used by architects to plan out what types of buildings are needed in what areas.
"Given the right data sets, GIS can go beyond locative analysis and reveal social and cultural information. In 2005, the Spatial Information Design Lab, a research group at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, mapped the city-prison-city-prison migration loop in five U.S. cities, with striking implications. The lab's co-directors, Laura Kurgan and Sarah Williams, identified individual 'million-dollar' blocks whose residents had been incarcerated at a public cost of $1 million or more. 'Architects tend to just use GIS for base maps or land-use diagrams,' says Williams, who teaches data visualization to Columbia's architecture and planning students. 'But that is just one slice. It offers a dynamic way of representing unseen patterns and contextual relationships across a regional area.'"