Answering “What Ifs” with GIS

Posted by on Jan 13, 2015

Things happen. While playing the “what if” game isn’t always helpful, in some cases it can get us thinking about how we would respond in certain scenarios.

Here are a few examples:

What if…..a natural disaster struck and you needed to define search and rescue grids, perform field damage assessments, publicize damage zones and road closures and direct emergency responders through passable routes? This scenario sounds all too familiar as many of us remember Birmingham’s “Snowpocalypse” that happened in January of 2014.

What if…..a utility pipe was broken and you needed to notify constituents within a certain distance, locate the valves to isolate the rupture, determine the direct impact on the rest of the infrastructure and identify the environmental impacts of the break?

What if…..there was a medical or other emergency and the emergency location could not be found on the dispatcher’s map, the emergency location was an apartment or mobile home park or the dispatcher’s map indicated the wrong location?

What if…..you were developing a property and needed to assess potential environmental impacts, evaluate existing and future traffic impacts, determine available utilities and possible conflicts and produce multiple conceptual plans for the site?

The answer to these disaster preparedness, asset management, emergency response and economic development questions is Geographical Information Systems (GIS). GIS is much more than a pretty map, and can be extremely helpful in these situations and more.

Leave a Reply