Lake Simcoe Science
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
GIS - Everywhere you are
Every day, decisions are being made with information provided by GIS. From predicting weather, to identifying flood prone areas, to analyzing crime patterns, to deciding where to locate facilities like shopping malls, GIS plays a role because these geographic problems require spatial thinking.
You probably use GIS every day and don’t even realize it. When you open the map tool on your phone to find out where the closest Tim Hortons is, or look up the movie theatre schedule, GIS is running behind the scenes making that information available at your fingertips. School boards use GIS to map their bus routes. Municipalities use it to track their snow plough routes. Real estate agents use it to help find the perfect home for their clients. If you’re searching for something, GIS can probably help. But don’t expect it to help when you lose your glasses… at least not yet!
Supporting decision making
GIS refers to the systems that support all the
knowledge we have at LSRCA.
By taking data from tables and displaying
them on a map, GIS supports
informed, knowledgeable decision-making that
encourages participation and understanding.
GIS also provides the infrastructure support that
houses all this information. Without GIS, tasks
that now take minutes or even seconds, would
have taken hours, days or even weeks.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then GIS is probably worth a million.
The data iceberg
Maps are one product of what GIS can do, but
a lot of data collection, analysis, review and
management is required to make that map.
It would be an oversimplification to equate
GIS with maps. The map is only the tip of the
iceberg. There’s a lot going on behind the
scenes (under the water) that is not readily
GIS at LSRCA
By plotting information on a map in layers, we
can see how they interact or intersect with one
another. Like chapters in a book, the layers add
up to tell us a story. We can see the full picture
of the landscape and inform such decisions as
where we should or shouldn’t develop.
Our GIS department has access to hundreds of
layers (types) of information that contributes to
our understanding of the landscape.
We only scratched the surface of the topic of GIS
in this issue. In the next newsletter, we delve deeper
into how GIS operates specifically at LSRCA.