Monday, November 1, 2010

Lab 4: Potential and Pitfalls of GIS

Example Proposed Airport Expansion
By Tej Singh

GIS is always changing the way we view, interact, and share our world with each other. Global information systems have many different purposes, which include but are not limited to: transportation, population, politics, wildlife, environmental degradation, weather, architectural planning, and much more. This lab walked the user through a tutorial about a proposal for an airport expansion. It looked up noise pollution, population density, land use, and proximity to schools. Variables like noise, population, land use, and proximity to schools play a part in a community deciding whether to approve this proposal. If this expansion would hinder students from paying attention and learning in school because of the noise, then it would likely not be passed. Population plays a role by accessing whether the community will actually require an airport to prosper. Lastly if the land is not occupied by human influence, the environmental factor would also affect the chances of this approvals success. Variables are analyzed in GIS to figure out an beneficial solution to a problem. 

Some potentials of GIS include the ability to predict future events based on past and current data. For example if a contractor wanted to know whether or not it would be profitable to build a housing complex or neighborhood in a certain area, he would be able to look up data records for population, climate, birth rates, death rates, proximity to schools, etc and put them all on different layers in a GIS raster grid. By using variables like these, an educated guess could be made by the data. 

Although GIS allows us to explore the world and increase our understanding, there pitfalls to GIS. 
The biggest pitfall of GIS is the need for precise and accurate information or data. If the data that is provided is excluded, or inaccurate then it does produce a good projection. It has been stated that when one puts garbage in, he or she will get garbage out. I realized this while I was working on this lab because, there were so much room for error if I did not review the tutorial pdf while I was working with ArcMap. Since GIS is so professional, it cannot be easily understood by the general public without some understanding of the program. This makes it hard for the average person to use GIS to explore and analyze the many variables that it is capable of working with. Neogeographical programs like google earth, yahoo maps, google maps, etc. are better suited for the public, while GIS like ArcMap and other programs are used by researchers and students. 

For a very long time, GIS was only in the hands of the government. This type of access to such information was held very high because of fear of it falling into the hands of an enemy or someone who could exploit the information for personal gain. It was only until recently that it was released in to GPS so that one could more easily navigate around world. Now most people won't travel anywhere without already looking it up on map quest, google maps, yahoo maps, or other types of programs. One pitfall with this (that some people would not see as relevant or interesting, but I would like to point out), is that the romanticism of the world has been lost. Not long ago people would take road trips across the planet so that they experience an unexplored part of the world. Now one is able to look up almost anything such as restaurants, airports, universities, companies, hotels, and other things, which makes the world a smaller place. GIS helps us understand what we already know and helps us see what could result from it. Since technology is moving forward, advances in GIS has more potential than pitfalls as of right now.

No comments:

Post a Comment