Photo by cocoparisienne
Google maps is great tool, it provides us with access to a large amount of data for planning any journey by any means of transport. It helps us find the best place to have a meal or stock up on stationery. Google maps presents a load of data referenced to a geographical system. There are plenty of different data maps available; the Environment Agency Maps present the different areas at risk of floods, air pollution and many more different environmental data. What if this could be combined in the same way as the travel data on google maps to present a smarter way of solving problems.
This is the idea of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), it uses data, referenced to geographical coordinates in order to have a greater insight into the geographical aspects of different challenges. GIS has revolutionised the way we see and solve problems. GIS enables us to consider a wider range of parameters and understand the connection in between these parameters. This enables us to solve problems through a more informed process. GIS Missions, offers a great insight into how GIS can help solve practical problems in the planning stage of both small and major projects. It can help identify the impact of flooding in an area, the effectiveness of of renewable energy systems or on a personal note create Property Heat Maps identifying where you can afford to live. GIS is a powerful tool to visualise and understand complex challenges.
The quality of GIS analysis is only as powerful as the data input. This leads to limitation, the data required is often closed down and in varied formats. In order to effectively use GIS to solve global challenges and create smarter communities, smarter cities; we need big data solution. Data needs to be made open licensed, easy to access and in an open format. Open Street Map and Quantum GIS are both initiatives which bring the power of GIS into an open environment. Open street maps is a map created openly by the community; it gathers local data and knowledge which is shared openly and under open licence. Quantum GIS is an open GIS platform, it enables the design of custom user generated functions to better analyse geographical data. We need these open solution in order to understand and overcome the global challenges society faces.