Geographic information systems have been used by researchers since the 1960s to provide governments, industries, and policy makers with key data to inform their decision making. Since that time, geographic information system software has become key to successful management of the environment. More than an aid to mapping and monitoring areas that may be negatively impacted by development, this technology is effectively used to determine areas affected by contamination, and used in harmony with other field engineering technologies to forecast the impacts of resource planning. Geographic information system software is able to provide key data to policy makers as they make decisions that affect public health, land development, and global sustainability.

Geographic Information System Software Is Key To Tracking Environmental Data

The development of GIS technology has vastly improved the efficiency of collecting data for environmental research and resource management. One of the greatest efficiencies offered by computerized mapping technologies is in resource planning, which is no longer dependent on field engineering technicians collecting and compiling data. Geographic information system software is capable of integrating a variety of complementary research data (including wildlife and plant survey information) to provide a complete picture of impact for land development, transportation, and resource management projects. For this reason, it has become a key tool for researching factors that affect public policy and decision-making by regional governments and industry for land development and water resources.

The Link Between GIS And Protection Of Environmental Health

GIS has made management of land and water resources simpler, more efficient, and more cost-effective. Identifying hazards to human, animal, and plant life can now be done easily using GIS technologies. Testing contaminants to runoff for water purity in a specified region, for example, is but one key use of modern geographic information systems. Sites known to be hazardous, like abandoned mining areas, can be mapped and monitored using geographic information technology, and assist in determining variations in contaminant levels and effectiveness of clean up operations. Marine areas also benefit from computerized mapping technologies for managing oil spills — some of the most devastating disasters that have occurred, with enormous environmental impact, in recent decades.

How GIS Integrates With Other Data Tracking Systems To Protect The Environment

While it can’t be denied that geographic information system software is key to resource planning and management, GIS are further enhanced by their integration with other technologies. After all, cartography alone cannot show the complete picture of wildlife in an area that may be impacted by municipal planning for a new regional rapid transit system, or the creation of power lines, substations, and transformers as part of the electrical distribution system for a local utility company. The tracking of wildlife population through radio signals, for example (known as wildlife telemetry) is an important area where scientists work with GIS technicians to provide the most complete picture of overall environmental factors to relevant governments and industries.

As powerful as current GIS systems software is, the future of this technology is exciting. The potential of usefulness on the global scale, when GIS is combined with web technologies, robotics, and remote sensing imagery — to name a few — and its ability to be used to promote environmental sustainability and community development in the richest, and poorest, nations make this technology essential to worldwide sustainability efforts.

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