Geospatial data ties information to a location. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) layers this location data over any other data set, creating some important insight for public policy, infrastructure, and citizen service planning in a number of areas.
- Sustainability - perhaps the most obvious use of geospatial data is in helping understand the current environment. With a view of air quality, tree cover, water levels, and more, communities can not only monitor ongoing changes but model what impact new construction or programs could have on an area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created an interactive map to help state and local leaders understand the environmental burdens on their communities' health. Combining 36 health, social and environmental indicators, the application assigns an environmental justice score per census tract. This allows officials to see and then prioritize action for vulnerable areas. If a local government is looking to add a manufacturing plant, they can not only see what current pollution levels are, but can also determine if an area is made up of largely non-English speakers so that they know how best to communicate and involve the community in decisions about the plant.
- Policing - The Justice Department is looking for proposals that apply geospatial data to track criminal activity affecting businesses and neighborhoods. Understanding where and when incidents occur and who may be involved helps police departments target patrols and implement programs that can help prevent incidents.
- Public health - The Washington Department of Health's GeoHUB layers various department datasets over location information. Geospatial information helps pinpoint access to services across the state. Staff can analyze the state's transportation network and the location of, say, dialysis facilities to identify where residents do not have easy access. Presenting this information on a map makes it more digestible than having to parse out information from multiple charts and graphs.
- Elections - State elections divisions use geospatial information and systems to enhance the efficiency and utility of election systems. A huge problem is ensuring addresses are correctly aligned to the right precincts so when people register to vote they are assigned the right polling place. Precinct lines are changed on the local level while registration frequently happens at the state level. Mapping addresses with precincts in real time allows for more accurate assignments.
To see these successes expand, geospatial experts are pushing for more defined standards in the use of geospatial data and systems. The Geospatial Data Act was passed in 2018 to codify existing federal governance structures like the Federal Geographic Data Committee and the National Geospatial Advisory Committee, ensuring there were standards around the collection and use of geographic data. Now, an amendment is being proposed to provide funding to accomplish the goals of the Act and increase the development of governance. Creating shared standards and governance will make it easier to share geospatial data across state boundaries and between the public and the private sector.
GovEvents and GovWhitePapers have a number of resources that lay out use cases for geospatial data and detail innovations happening in this space.
- Breaking Down Data Silos: Leveraging Advanced Tools for Enterprise Data Analytics in Government (July 13, 2023; webcast) - Experts discuss the benefits of employing analytical techniques and software platforms designed for exploring and modeling complex networks of interconnected data tools for enterprise-level data analytics in government organizations.
- Mission Focus: Data-Centric Operations (September 13, 2023; Falls Church, VA) - Learn how geospatial data can be leveraged to enhance operational analysis. USGIF Mission Focus events provide informative discussion and insights and offer the opportunity to network and connect with other professionals in the field.
- GEOINT Community Forum: The GEOINT Advantage: Increasing, Maintaining, Protecting (November 28, 2023; Springfield, VA) - This event takes a critical look at what is required to increase, maintain, and protect the U.S. geospatial intelligence advantage in the years ahead.
- US Geological Survey: Implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Initial Spend Plan (white paper) - The Bipartisan Infrastructure Act makes historic investments in the USGS's efforts to provide critical science to address critical minerals, preserve data, and foster the next generation of geoscientists. The USGS is assisting with other Bipartisan Infrastructure Act priorities such as ecosystem restoration, wildfire science, and unplugged oil and gas wells.
- How to Advance Public Safety with Data Management (white paper) - The ability to collect, process and manage massive amounts of data is essential for law enforcement agencies to identify and respond to emerging threats, and to carry out their mandate of keeping the public safe.