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May 13, 2015

What is GIS and How Does It Impact the Business Environment?

What do you know about Geographic Information Systems (GIS)? It sounds very technical and above our heads. But what GIS does is that it gathers information from data that is captured and analyzed in the form of maps and other illustrations to better understand and solve problems in our surroundings. You can find it in asset management, infrastructure and many other fields. Today, Total Business Solutions Limited partnered up with ESRI, a global leader in GSI technology, to engage some of the local partners who use this technology. Andrea Polanco checked in at the conference where she found out just how much more Geographic Information Systems are being used locally.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

GIS are used to create spatial images of data in the forms of maps, reports, charts which helps to reveal patterns and trends that are used to make informed decisions across just about every field. GIS, which is powered by data, allows for the efficient cross sharing of information has proven critical to development.

 

Cecille Blake

Cecille Blake, Team Member, UN Geospatial, NY

“GIS for us is a platform for action. One of the wonderful things about using ESRI software is that it is constantly being updated and it’s a new tool for action. It allows us to plan, to design, to do all kinds of things, to measure and monitor. GIS is very important in understanding what is happening in facilities in terms of linking health system to the police in terms of where different crime happening like stabs, rapes and this data can be transferred and you can do intervention in different area or special programs and use our resources more efficiently. In terms of investment, it is important that we collect information on the demographics of our people, the type of infrastructure and it helps investors because they would want to know all this information.”

 

The Ministry of Natural Resources has been using GIS for years. As Paul Flowers explains, the use of the latest technology and proper data protocol are must haves for the work that they do.

 

Paul Flowers

Paul Flowers, Director of Policy & Strategic Planning Ministry of Natural Resources

“Our Ministry has the LIC (Land Information Center), and the GIS technology we were basically a part of the birth of this whole initiative to track our land, land cover, land usage. So we were always under pressure to try to always be up to date with deforestation and different elements and the entirety of land coverage, so it became necessary to have a GIS there that is going to point to the entire country and the land usage that is under it. It is very important to control data because data involvement is extremely dangerous because we have that kind of experience at the Ministry in the Lands section. Where people having data of people who have already died and so they use their name and try to attain land documents. I know a couple of years ago,  there was an issue with some people using the database from the licensing department and using it for illegal land transfers, so data is something that everybody wants but it’s very important to know what is private and what is public and what level of people have access to what. So, what became important is to have a proper data sharing protocol.”

 

And, like the Lands department, using GIS paid off for a utility company. Blake says that Jamaica was able to address electricity thefts and leakage of revenues, and can be replicated using this technology.

 

Cecille Blake

“It is serious business because when you know how much electricity is generated from your grid, because they have linked their customer information system in terms of their collection to their power generation system. So, they have a map that shows you how much electricity was generated per grid and they show how much was collected per grid. So, it means that if your collections are not matching your generation, there’s a loss. So, that’s where GIS allows them to go within that grid and it reduces the search and we thought the electricity was being stolen in those little communities, barrack communities, ghetto communities where electricity is usually stolen; we found out that wasn’t the case. It was in the high income areas that electricity was being stolen and GIS allowed us to find out this. So that’s the power of GIS.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

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