Go to Saint Mary's University main web site: www.smumn.edu Geographic Information Science, Master of Science, Department of Resource Analysis, Saint Mary's University, Winona, Minnesota

Information for Prospective Students

About GIS : Applicable Fields

“The application of GIS is limited only by the imagination of those who use it.”
– Jack Dangermond, President of ESRI

The number of GIS applications is growing every day. Below are a few examples of fields using GIS:

Policy Administration/Government/Criminal Justice: State and local governments and law enforcement agencies are continually pressed to become more efficient. As a result, GIS is readily used to access relevant geographic information and manage large databases with some geographic link, such as zip codes, zoning, and parcels. Questions these users might use GIS to answer include:

  • Which parcels are located in the floodplain?
  • Where should school attendance boundaries be drawn?
  • Which areas of the city experience the most crime?
  • Where are all of our road signs, government vehicles, trees, sewer lines, sidewalks, etc?

Natural Resource Management: As the world’s population continues to grow, natural resource managers need to be cognizant of new technologies that assist in managing resources. GIS provides resource managers with a vast array of tools to enhance their decision making skills. Questions that GIS can help answer are:

  • Where is critical habitat for an endangered species?
  • What is the spatial distribution of plant communities?
  • Where are invasive species likely to spread?
  • What is downstream of a pollution source?

Homeland Security/Emergency Management: Natural disasters, smart population growth, world resource management, epidemic disease management, traffic control, and terrorism control all depend on questions of geography. A few examples of the many questions GIS can help answer:

  • If a volcano erupts, what area will be impacted by ash and debris?
  • How can emergency responders most efficiently distribute aid to an area affected by a disaster?
  • Where and how fast is a disease likely to spread?
  • How are public officials able to assess, inventory, and plan for urban and rural responses?

Business Administration: Increasingly, businesses are compiling extensive databases with considerable geographic information. Innovative businesses are using GIS to harvest this spatial component to analyze, predict, and manage their diverse databases, becoming more efficient in their market. From international corporations to entrepreneurial startups, companies are calling on GIS to answer questions such as:

  • Where are most of my customers travelling from?
  • Where should I locate my business so that it does not compete with my existing business locations?
  • Where are potential customers that would benefit from my business?
  • Where should I locate my warehouse to most efficiently distribute goods to my stores?

You can find information about how GIS is used in many more industries here: http://www.esri.com/industries.html .