GIS technology supports many crucial aspects of scientific research and analysis. While many GIS applications have traditionally focused on creating inventories of the natural and cultural environment, GIS is increasingly being used to create new knowledge and insight based on spatial analysis and modeling. Of particular value to practitioners in the social, biological, and earth science communities, GIS has the ability to bring together multiple datasets and help us understand complex systems that have a significant spatial component.
GIS analysis and modeling are key to solving the critical problems of our time such as
- Global climate change
- Prudent use of energy
- Sustainability of natural resources
- Equitable planning of new and transportation systems
- Improving efficiency across the globe
The increasing availability of more sophisticated and high-quality GIS tools enables much wider use of analytic tools and modeling approaches.
Using GIS to combine disparate datasets helps scientists model complex scenarios and test multiple hypotheses. And because the technology is widely used in government and other organizations, GIS can connect scientific research and analysis with policy makers and help make a persuasive case to act responsibly to solve the critical problems facing society and the environment.
Current GIS technology development continues to move spatial modeling and analysis tools to the next level. Coming GIS technology enhancements that will benefit the work of scientists include
- New 3D vector analysis tools
- Expanded graphing and data exploration functionality
- New techniques for site suitability analysis