GIS and society: Interrelation, integration, and transformation

Gregory A. Elmes, Earl F. Epstein, Robert B. McMaster, Bernard J. Niemann, Barbara Poore, Eric Sheppard, David L. Tulloch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


GIS is inextricably interwoven into society. The widespread and increasingly routine use of GIS enables the efficient storage, display, analytical spatial modeling, and exchange of diverse types of map, image, and other spatial data. Advances in computing technology provide efficient GIS interfaces to Internet map servers, mobile telephones, and to embedded computer applications in machinery and household appliances. GIS is applied to contexts and scales spanning from the global information economy, through local business uses, to the individual. Used extensively for land-cover mapping, land use and land parcel applications, and urban and regional planning, GIS found wide early acceptance in public sector agencies. Natural resource applications grew rapidly for land and water inventory assessment, monitoring, taxation, sustainable harvest management, and resource conservation practices. Increasingly, private businesses apply geodemographic and other forms of spatial analysis to problems of facilities location, production, and marketing. Transportation networks are represented in GIS for traffic engineering, transportation management, scheduling, and routing for deliveries and emergency response. Utility companies map digital networks for communications, gas, water, and electricity facility maintenance and management. Since 1995, GIS has found a regular role in areas as diverse as public health surveillance, product vending, pilot training, vehicle routing and navigation and precision agriculture. Today there is a growing demand for location-based services (Goodchild, 2003). Location-based services capitalize on the value of real-time, locationspecific data for customized service, productivity and response. GIS users include private firms and individuals, national, regional, and local governments, nonprofit organizations, grassroots and community groups, students, schools, colleges, universities, and research institutes. Yet, in spite of its apparent ubiquity and diversity of use, GIS adoption remains sporadic, the quality and degree of its application vary, and the term “Geographic Information System” remains unknown to the great majority of the American public even though their daily lives are increasingly affected by its use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781420038330
ISBN (Print)0849327288, 9780849327285
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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