Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become an integral part of our lives, enabling us to visualize, analyze and interpret geographic data. From weather forecasts on our smartphones to mapping the spread of diseases for epidemiologists, GIS is used in a variety of applications across different industries. With its ability to combine layers of information such as roads, topography, weather conditions and landmarks onto maps, GIS has become a critical component in our daily lives.
Beyond its everyday use, GIS also plays a vital role in scientific research. Ecologists use it to understand wildlife movement while climate scientists utilize it to comprehend changes in glaciers, sea levels and regional weather patterns. Social scientists employ GIS to study global conflict and immigration while urban planners and engineers use it to determine the best places for new development and infrastructure.
The U.S. National Science Foundation has been at the forefront of developing and growing GIS-related technology and science. In the past two years alone, the foundation has awarded over $83 million in grants to support research in fields such as geography, math, computer science, geology, anthropology, and education. This continued support underscores the importance of GIS in today’s world and its relevance across numerous disciplines.