We’ve put together this blog post in celebration of GIS Day 2020! If you or the company you work for are already using GIS then you already know why it’s “the way to go” at this time in technology history. If you’re new to this, or on the fence about the benefits of utilizing GIS in your business, this article is for you! Before we begin, here is a definition of GIS from the Esri website:
A geographic information system (GIS) is a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data. It analyzes spatial location and organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes. With this unique capability, GIS reveals deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations—helping users make smarter decisions.
Before GIS was “a thing”, all of the planning, implementation, and management of telecommunication and broadband networks was done manually. When we say manually, we mean by hand. People would have to go out to proposed build sites and hand draw what they saw and then the handwritten notes could be taken back to the office and entered into a system like AutoCAD so that “maps” could be generated based on the data that was entered into the system.
When this was the only method, it “was what it was”. Now that it’s not the only method, it’s an option that’s incredibly time consuming, relies on humans “getting it exactly right” on every level within the process, and the end product is simply a digitized version of what was originally created with pencil and paper on that specific date and time in history.
Technology has now made it so that the info that people manually went out and observed can be ascertained online. That data can be fused with geospatial data (think Google Maps) and the data can be updated – because this info is constantly changing – online and in real time. In essence, you create a “digital twin” – think records that actually mirror what is out in the field at all times.
Additionally, there are other invaluable variables that you can easily add in to your data by layering other data in. Factors like weather patterns and census data allow for better, more accurate data to help projects be more efficient once it’s go-time.
You may be thinking: You are grossly oversimplifying this, company whose business IS GIS! because it really can sound too good to be true. But, we’re not. Sure, you have to invest in GIS tools and employees who know how or can learn how to operate those tools. But is that investment all that more significant when you can take significant amounts of time, travel, and inaccuracies out of the equation?
GIS has been a game changer in our industry. It has allowed companies to massively ramp up efficiencies – do more, faster, more safely, and more accurately. It has allowed for services to get into the hands of people who need and want it faster than ever before. While we have a long way to go in closing the digital divide, leveraging technology is a clear path for providers to do their part to make that happen as efficiently and as cost effectively as possible.