Senior Lecturer in Geographic Information Systems
We’re all facing a range of important problems these days: earthquake recovery, climate change, over-population, global financial crises. While solutions to these problems all have a wide range of solutions, they all have one big thing in common – they all happen somewhere. There’s the old saying that the three most important things in business are location, location and location but this isn’t true just in business; understanding why something happens often depends on understanding where it happens. That’s where spatial technologies like Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the Global Positioning System (GPS) come in. GIS allows us to work with digital layers of information, all living in the same geographic space, and transform our standard hard copy maps into dynamic, evolving maps that allow us to ask more questions than we were ever able to ask before. GPS makes use of a constellation of satellites to map features on the earth’s surface to very high levels of accuracy, be it in mapping treelines in the depths of Fiordland, or tracking snow leopards in the Himalayas, or monitoring the movement of glaciers in Antarctica.
Another saying goes that a picture tells a thousand words. Maps created with GIS can tell stories visually in a matter of seconds that might take pages and pages of words to tell, and even then it might not be so easy to get the full picture.
Everyday, Lincoln students are using GIS along with satellite images, aerial photos, and data from councils, Crown Research Institutes, and GPS receivers to ask questions of our environment, and create maps that answer some very useful questions. Where’s the best place to put all those people displaced by the earthquakes? If we’re going to reintroduce takahe to the mainland, where are the locations that have the best habitat? If we’re going to better manage our groundwater better, what zones do we need to limit wells in? Where’s the best place to put that new coffee shop?
GIS can be used by commerce students, environmental managers, wildlife ecologists, IT professionals, landscape architects, geomorphologist, or anyone where location is important.
What’s it going to take to bring new ideas to life? You and GIS!