Today is an international celebration of GIS. Even if you’re not sure exactly what that is, you have benefited from GIS. GIS — geographic information systems — refers to digital tools that help us store, visualize and analyze vast amounts of data. If you’ve ever used Google Maps to figure out which restaurant to go to for dinner, you've used GIS!
In a library context, GIS data, air photos and print maps are made accessible to researchers for their work, but library staff also provide expertise to help researchers explore spatial data, analysis and environmental modeling tools for their own work, allowing them to organize and connect their findings and communicate their conclusions in a visually compelling way.
Markus Weiland, the Library’s GIS specialist, is currently working with Susan Roy, associate professor of History, on creating a database to map aboriginal archeological sites and connecting existing land rights data storage to an administrative GIS for the Six Nations. Much of this information already exists on paper but by transitioning it to a digital database with GIS capabilities, the information will be much more dynamic and accessible for continuing research and analysis.
Weiland has worked with Roy and her team throughout the process, from discussing their goals, the data they have available and their skillsets, helping them build database architecture. He will continue to support them and provide expertise as they select the software that will work best for them and build and expand their GIS infrastructure.
The possibilities for GIS are endless — from mapping flood resiliency to tracking disparities of food security — it is the natural evolution from flat data as the sheer amount of datasets we collect continues to grow. Being able to connect all this data in a dynamic way will allow us to make better informed and unbiased decisions so we can create the future we want.
The Geospatial Centre is available for instruction and consultation at all levels of GIS analysis.