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.