A Geographic Information System (GIS) refers to a data management system, designed to store, interpret and analyse different types of spatial data, often against the background of the natural and built environment. In recent years GIS has been used by academics and researchers as a means of advancing scientific knowledge, primarily by identifying spatial relationships between different types of data and monitoring systemic changes over time.
The usefulness of GIS is not precluded to academic work. The technology is also used for applications such as city planning, conservation, heritage management, civil protection and the synchronisation of traffic lights, to name but a few. In this respect, the capacity of GIS for data capture and modelling change provides a means of translating real-world data into a mechanism for making informed choices and strategic decisions.
GIS offers several benefits in environmental remediation projects. Multi-source data can be used to pinpoint the location and extent of polluted areas or wild-life poaching represented as hot-spots on a digital map. This approach provides a feedback loop for co-ordinating of activities on the ground, monitoring project impact over time, and storing data for modelling proposed activities and their efficacy.
While GIS provides a means of documenting project impact over time, the aspect of spatial modelling and data representation offers a roadmap for future work. Future sites and operation areas can be modelled in terms of cost, environmental impact and financial return. Proposed developments can thus be modelled using GIS as a series of different scenarios and presented to policy holders using easy to understand graphs, charts, maps. This offers both transparency in moving the process forward and a democratic platform for constructive debate and informed decision making. Certain data can also be made accessible to the general public using a range of web-based applications and create content to be used in media campaigns and press-releases.