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The GIS Invasion

Geographic information systems (GIS) have infiltrated the world. The applications of this high-tech mapping system are endless, from Google Earth to covert military planning. With GIS satellites able to zoom in at a very personal level, the lack of individual privacy is creating uneasiness. The balance between how much personal information should be accessible and how much should not is an ethical issue for the ages.
Legal issues aside, there are some uses of GIS that have made life easier across industries. Here are some fields needing qualified GIS technicians, analysts, and software developers:
Political Campaigns  GIS maps pinpoint political contributions by neighborhood, and can be zoomed in to show the donor"s name, street, contribution amount, and political party and cause.
Power Companies  Oil and electric companies need to plan and manage their grids.
Local and County Government Seats  Even small counties have established GIS departments to maintain land parcel maps.
911 Dispatch  Dispatchers in police and fire departments are able to track where emergency vehicles are, and can effectively dispatch personnel based on location.
Epidemic Monitoring  National health officials can pinpoint the origin and spread of infectious disease with GIS maps.
Property sales and research  Realtors and bankers can monitor how much homes have recently sold for in surrounding areas in order to estimate a home"s value range.
Advertising and marketing campaigns  A company can locate its target customer"s neighborhood by checking GIS maps that plot out average household income information.
UPS/DHL/FedEx  Delivery companies can manage and track package and driver locations.
Urban planning and Development  City and economic planners can identify potential areas of growth and potential solutions to overdevelopment.
Water management systems  GIS is important in predicting water availability patterns and the potential for drought or flooding.
GIS work from the software level to the data use level will be around for years to come, as will the moral predicament of privacy. With GIS imagery capturing personal moments, and the fear of government and private entities using information for unethical reasons, there will be no shortage of lawsuits on the horizon.

By Neil Whitehall
Get GIS Jobs, Contributing Editor

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