“The world is getting smaller”. This statement holds true, as, with technological advancement, we are now able to chat with our families and friends in real time across continents. More so, we can use Google Earth to take a virtual tour of any country on the Earth without having to leave the comforts of our living rooms.
The advancement in technology is making the world more connected and more accessible. One such technology is the Geographic Information System (GIS), which can do numerous things, such as: help citizens predict areas of flooding, and map soil quality to ensure efficient land use.
But what exactly is GIS?
A Geographic Information System is a framework for gathering, managing, and analysing data. Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data, analyses spatial locations, and organises layers of information into visualisations using maps and 3D scenes. With this unique capability, GIS reveals deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations, thereby helping users make smarter decisions. Further, GIS allows for people to view data as maps, rather than columns of numbers, making it easier to read and understand.

How is GIS data collected?
● Digitising (the process of tracing GIS data directly on the screen)
● LiDAR (images)
● Drones
● Global Positioning System (EPA primarily utilises this format)
● Satellites (remote sensing)

Why is GIS important?
● Informs decision-making
● Provides accurate data location
● Increase efficiencies
● Can reduce cost of services
● Coherent management of resources
● Improves communication
● Vital for accurate record keeping

Types of datasets captured through GIS Technology
● Land cover
● Climate
● Ecosystems
● Energy
● Infrastructure
● Marine resources
● Biodiversity
● Research
● Health
● Demographics
● Manufacturing/Industries
● Education
GIS in environment and natural resources’ management
GIS helps in identifying the impact of human behaviour on natural resources, and leads to more effective utilisation of the same. Data about natural resources could be collected through remote sensing, aerial photography or satellite imagery, and is then mapped using GIS technology. The major application of GIS in natural resource management is in confronting environmental issues like a flood, landslide, soil erosions, drought, earthquake etc. It also addresses the current problems of climate change, habitat loss, population growth, pollution etc., and provides information about land area change between time periods. The information obtained from GIS helps to study specific areas, and monitoring can be done in and around those areas. It provides relevant information about the environmental condition and policy, including conservation programmes. Maps in GIS provide the information of location and current resources.
Along with the aforementioned applications, GIS can effectively aid in wastewater management, oil spilling, sewage treatment etc. Hundreds of thousands of organisations in virtually every field are using GIS to make maps that communicate, perform analysis, share information, and solve complex problems around the world. This is changing the way the world works.
At the EPA, we place high value on evidence- based decision making, and use GIS as one of the tools in the process. Our officers in the GIS Unit collect and analyse data that include but is not limited to:
● Complaints hotspot mapping;
● Environmental inspections;
● Biodiversity research conducted;
● Water sampling locations;
● Disease outbreaks;
● Oil wells and drill sites;
● Identifying potential and suitable landfill sites; and
● Mapping coastal change and trends.

GIS Day – Discovering the world through GIS
The third Wednesday in November each year is designated internationally as “GIS Day”. On this day, users of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) celebrate the technology and its multiple applications in the real world. The recognition of this day was initiated on November 1 9, 1999 by the combined efforts of the National Geographic Society, Association of American Geographers (AAG) and Esri, one of the leading GIS service providers. If you’re interested in learning more about GIS Day, then check out this website



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