How is GIS used?
Who uses GIS?
It’s puzzling that the $18B Geographic Information System (GIS) industry is not well known even among tech enthusiasts. Its applications are vast and there are lots of opportunities to earn jobs in GIS. So who uses GIS and how is GIS used to solve problems? Anyone that collects data and needs to know what is happening where needs GIS. This includes:
- Research institutions studying covid spread
- Businesses siting next store locations
- Communities planning housing for urban growth
- Individuals wanting smartphone directions
- Environmental engineers looking to protect groundwater, and
- Government agencies that manage forests and wildlife
We have come to understand how things are connected and that good geographic decision management by one entity (e.g., mitigating pollution in one city) will likely affect another. As you can see the need for GIS can happen at the individual or the global scale.
What problems does GIS solve?
Every organization collects data to manage its challenges and problems. Instead of viewing it through a spreadsheet, you can view quantitative differences across the landscape via a digital map. Here are some example web applications that shed light on addressing problems:
- Johns Hopkins COVID dashboard
- Zillow home valuation
- Litterbase distribution of litter pollution around the world
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory map of solar potential
At an individual level, you probably never thought about your phone tracking your location relative to your school, store, and gas station. In order for that to happen, there are GIS analysts and developers that make geographic data, perform analysis, and build web mapping applications so the rest of us can make quick decisions.
Is GIS a growing field?
The demand for geographic decisions has fueled a growing industry. The GIS market is projected to reach $25.6B by the year 2030. This is a growth rate of 12% between 2020 and 2030. Many people and companies realize that this industry is a long-term asset to their missions. It correlates with business advertising, where location data can be used to predict products with a specific customer demographic. Location is one of the attributes when you define your target customer audience. GIS is being applied to every advertised product on the internet. That’s a huge market!
Is GIS hard to learn?
Some people get degrees in applied geography programs where geospatial analysis is taught. But the majority of people doing analysis with GIS have jobs or degrees in virtually every other discipline. Think of GIS as a tool like Google Docs that you learn as part of your job. In this case, you can learn through videos, short courses, and GIS certificates. Here are some example classes that show you how to use GIS to complete a project.
- Leveraging GIS for Disaster Risk Reduction: If you want to be involved in planning safer communities in terms of disaster management
- Forest Planning: If you’re passionate about the environment and would like to advance your career by involving yourself with a federal or state forest.
- Leveraging UAV (drone) Data for Environmental Projects: If you want to be the Drone/GIS expert and generate data and analysis for environmental projects.
Some of the people that are drawn to these classes are people with a degree in business, biology, or environmental science. They learned a lot of concepts, but didn’t learn some of the new tech and applied analytics. Some of the best GIS certificates can make you more marketable with a 6 month GIS Certificate program. Take advantage of online GIS certificate programs flexibility if you want to quickly build your GIS portfolio.
Is the GIS industry for you?
If you are interested in tech or science, you likely have an interest in analyzing data. You may have studied biology, business, or environmental science. Learning about GIS can be practical when you are starting to look at your future career. The GIS industry has a growth rate of 12% and will continue to expand. If you get a degree or earn a GIS certificate, you can create, analyze, and manage geospatial data for virtually any organization. It’s worth taking a look at the meaningful GIS careers within this growing $18 billion industry?