Is Web and mobile GIS technology now for everybody? This is a question often asked within our company. We thought we would make this question the title of this blog post.
As a group who have been building GIS applications for over a decade, we are beginning to see a diversity of GIS need. No longer are we only building apps for a GIS trained user base. Increasingly, we are being approached about Web and Mobile GIS apps targeting non-GIS users. These new users are beginning to leverage GIS technology in many different and exciting ways.
The diagram above breaks these new users into 3 groups: consumers/citizens, staff and executives. We will discuss in more detail each of these groups in future blog posts, but to summarize:
1) Consumers/citizens – Maps have always been a very intuitive way to discover and understand information. Today’s GIS technology puts maps powered by GIS in the hands of everybody. Web and mobile apps which provide routing, information discovery (local parks, water access, polling stations), and engagement with local government: reporting crime or other local issues, and much more we are now building for clients. GIS is now being used in marketing and selling to consumers. Geo-fencing for example, is increasingly more popular; alerting users by text about sales or other messaging based on current location.
2) Staff – Historically GIS was the bastion of the GIS department within any organization. Today the technology is being used far more widely. Field staff are replacing pen and paper with iPads running GIS data collection apps. On site analysis for store location, is now being done in the field leveraging new GIS tools. Office based staff are now using GIS in a multitude of ways to help get their jobs done.
3) Executives – Providing data snapshots and decision making tools for managers is increasingly more common using GIS technology. Executive dashboards which look across organizations and provide summary information in real time, have helped senior staff improve the accuracy and speed of decision making. GIS is providing new ways to visualize, understand and act on data gathered from across an organization.
For a GIS application development company such as ours to now be able to serve a wider audience, and build a plethora of new applications which leverage this technology is very rewarding.
It is true Geography matters