It's hard to think of an aspect of government operations that can't be greatly improved by strategic application of GIS services. Maintenance teams, disaster response crews and emergency personnel all derive tremendous benefits from collecting, analyzing and incorporating geospatial information into daily tasks.
But there is one area of public works that is so in-sync with the unique advantages offered by GIS that the two seem custom-made for each other: transportation.
The need to balance tight budgets with rising gas prices and increasing maintenance and repair costs of vehicles such as those used by public transit services can put strain on government officials. Any tools that can alleviate some of the associated pressure is a welcome one, and GIS holds many solutions.
Transportation and GIS: A history
Despite the fact that GIS technology has expanded rapidly in the past few years, it's far from a new innovation within the transportation industry. Public transit services and the governments that run them have been using GPS-enabled equipment for years now.
But it's only been recently that the suite of offerings available through various GIS services has begun expanding at the rate we see today. This may largely be due to the equivalent development of storage and Internet technologies, which enable government workers to gather and store much larger amounts of data, as well as provides them with the tools and knowledge to analyze them more effectively.
More than just transit
It doesn't take much extrapolating to see how improved GIS technology can revolutionize governments' administration of public transit services. GPS-enabled buses and subways can offer officials and passengers alike more accurate and to-the-minute information on arrival times by route. Additionally, maintenance teams and administrators can use location-based data to determine which routes may be in the greatest need of preventive and corrective maintenance due to things like terrain, weather and frequency of use.
But beyond these more obvious though useful applications, GIS can augment more aspects of government operations than you may have originally thought. For example, it can provide invaluable insight into logistics planning when it comes to things like tracking packages, planning shipping routes and responding to weather alerts. These services can also offer important decision-making aides. When officials are considering proposals for things such as expanded public transit construction or increased service to a given area, consulting location-based data can help decision-makers reconcile proposed construction and expense with existing need in these areas.
The security edge
The potential for increasing security through GIS also can't be overlooked. Geospatial data applied to tracking specific vehicles or monitoring a given area can help with important security-enhancing operations like access control, allowing officials to monitor important shipments and vehicle escorts. or to be alerted when a restricted area has been accessed by unauthorized personnel.
This extends to external security as well. GIS data can provide information on location-specific phenomena like traffic accidents, pedestrian fatalities and other similar safety hazards by area, further guiding government decision-making processes in these areas.