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Not Your Parents’ GIS

Geographical information systems (GIS) had their start in land management and transportation planning. Over the years GIS has become the go-to for data visualization. One growing area is in public policy management. GIS is the tool of choice for government organizations seeking to present complex issues to the public in an effort to inform and solicit input on policy development. Developing or updating any public policy involves the complex task of analyzing data from a number of sources to determine the impact of their decisions.

Esri, a leading GIS software provider, is taking policy mapping to the next level. In addition to its ArcGIS tool, it is also providing demographic data for most major US cities. Users can access these maps through Esri’s website. The site provide maps with data on various demographics such as social equity and health, economic opportunity, transportation, and public safety. The data is collected from various sources that include Esri, its partners and clients.

Esri also provides specific training in developing Story Maps. Story Maps are an effective way of presenting issues to a public audience. They combine maps, quantitative data, text, and images – no need to start from scratch. The Esri platform consists of templates that you can combine with your data and text to create powerful online presentations.

Source: SoftwareReviews, Accessed July 17, 2019

Our Take

Government organizations need to improve their ability to engage constituents in policy making. Visually presenting data assists the public understanding of complex issues. Using GIS mapping tools is an effective way of layering data from various sources for quantitative analysis. As public organizations become proficient at using GIS, it will be an indispensable data analysis and communication tool.

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