The Biggest Misconception About GIS

GIS is no doubt a game changer. We shared our perspective on “life” in our industry “before” and “after” GIS in the blog post we wrote to celebrate GIS Day a few months ago titled “Why GIS?”click here to check it out again.

While much has been written and demonstrated in the field about the power of GIS, misconceptions remain. The biggest misconception about GIS that we regularly encounter is that it’s too expensive and too complicated.

Like Comparisons

GIS is an investment, and sometimes it’s a significant investment. But the important thing to consider is like comparisons. GIS is more expensive than what? Traditional drafting and mapping tools and records systems? Possibly, but do the tools actually do the same thing? Is this a like comparison?

We won’t keep you waiting too long – the answer is: No, GIS vs. traditional methods are not a like comparison. Why not? Two words:

Spatial Analytics

Spatial analysis allows you to solve complex location-oriented problems and better understand where and what is occurring in your world. You can read more about spatial analysis in this article from Esri.

GIS allows you to solve location-oriented challenges. Examples:

Supply chain – It’s important to track inventory. For a company who has inventory in one place, a handful of customers buying a handful of whatever the company sells a few times a month, records managment can probably be pulled off with some fairly basic tools.

Now, think about the company with multiple locations, inventory sitting in multiple locations, hundreds to thousands of clients, also with multiple locations, hundreds to thousands of projects also with multiple locations. How can we track that? Using GIS.

Emergency response – We recently learned about how the health department in Linn County Iowa used GIS to help with the public health response to not one but two emergency situations in the past year. It’s impressive and worth sharing. Read all about their use of Dashboards here. Mapping Urgent Needs with Location Intelligence is the takeaway here, and it clearly can be a game changer.

Another example of using GIS to help solve public health issues involves the work an organization called Educate Girls is doing in India. In this TED talk, the organization’s founder explains that they were able to greatly improve their efforts when they started using GIS to more accurately determine the areas they needed to provide outreach to. To date they have been able to help more than 750,000 girls and realistically, without GIS, that number would be significantly lower.

While these two emergency response examples are not directly related to telecom, here are some ways to look at these solutions through a utilities lens:

  • Anticipating outages
  • Managing outages
  • Communicating with customers about outages

Education is a big componant of what we do here at Millennium Geospatial. We don’t anticipate ever being finished explaining the merits of GIS because it’s such a complex topic. If you take one thing away from this article, we hope it’s this:

Spatial analysis, combined with the ability to integrate with other existing systems within an organization is what will set companies apart from their competitors in the future. It’s not an if, it’s a when.