GIS: Why So Crucial?

GIS: Why So Crucial?

Remember geography class from back in school? That is when many of us got our introduction to maps and places on those maps.

Then some among us went beyond just looking up directions or places on those maps. Looking closer at all those points on a map and making sense of it all is now their day job. One of those day jobs is in the field of GIS—which plays an important role in the management and development of towns and cities everywhere.

How? GIS—Geographic Information Systems—is integral to any engineering project. WithersRavenel knows, as a multidisciplinary firm, that our GIS team is crucial to every project we undertake. Today, November 18, we mark GIS Day to not just celebrate, but to understand the importance of this field.

“GIS is used from start to finish in many of our projects at WR (WithersRavenel),” says Lindsay Thomas, Geomatics Project Manager, on why she thinks the field is extremely critical.

WithersRavenel GIS Technician Justin Richardson adds, “Finding the best location for a business or company, based on several spatial factors, is complex. GIS is also very good at helping people visualize spatial data trends to mitigate problems.”

For Justin, a good example of GIS is this: “‘We can see that all of the water pipes on the east side of town are older and need to be replaced sooner.'”

Others on the GIS team echo this understanding of the role GIS plays in projects. Tesla Hausman is also a GIS Technician at WithersRavenel. She says, “It can make a huge difference in the success of a project as it is often the first step in the process, and it is really important that the GIS data be correct.  For example, Landscape Architecture uses GIS data as the scaffolding to create accurate designs.”

Projects, according to GIS Technician Bryce Gardner, would require around 50 percent more resources without the advantage of good GIS data. He should know it.

He says, “Having collected data in the field in a field notebook and been the person to transfer that data into CAD, I know the pains of getting that data transferred and correct. GIS saves time, money, and energy around the world every day!”

For Project Manager Mark Smith, GIS provides the ability to see the overall picture of a project area. “The ability to provide data in a dynamic environment to add/remove data layers, show fieldwork progress, and highlight surrounding areas of potential concern is invaluable for many projects,” he says.

Brandon Inscore is the Director of WithersRavenel’s GIS Group. For him, it all comes down to spatial data, especially in today’s world when every business decision is based on what the data is telling us. “Almost all data has a spatial component and it is critical that we understand that at the heart of GIS is spatial data that can be used to tell a story, solve a problem, and make more informed decisions,” he says.

When municipalities and businesses undertake a project, they are not only building something, but are also hoping for a long and secure shelf life. GIS can unearth all that information to ensure those goals are fulfilled.

“The world is moving more and more toward data-driven decision making, and spatial data will play an increasingly important role in helping solve some very important problems. I am particularly excited about the role GIS will continue to play in asset management,” Brandon says.

And we are excited about where our GIS Team will take us next. Well, after all, they are the ones who can read maps.

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