Geospatial information systems use a variety of technologies to collect geographic data and convert it for commercial and civilian use. As GIS methods grow more sophisticated and applicable in a wider variety of settings, the field is growing in diversity and popularity. Keep reading for an overview of three areas in which applications of GIS technology have been particularly innovative.

1. Defense and Intelligence
According to the GIS graduate program at USC, the more widespread usage of GIS has been particularly useful to the defense and intelligence communities. For example, when government entities are trying to locate targets within a certain region, they can use a two-pronged approach to do so.
Many commercial providers now collect geospatial data for their own purposes. Government entities can use commercial data to obtain an understanding of the general status of the location in question. They can then use their more specialized technologies to pinpoint the status of their particular targets. Combining GIS technologies in this way saves resources and expedites the investigative process.


2. Business Data Collection
GIS is extremely useful for businesses because it can provide critical decision-making data within seconds. For example, companies can plan marketing campaigns based on demographic information gathered from their sales maps. Businesses can also use these maps to track buying trends in various areas, which can streamline the process of determining optimal locations for new branches.

On a larger scale, businesses can use geospatial data to inform the way they plan their manufacturing systems as well as how they manage their supply chains. For example, businesses can use climate data to improve their operations in areas that are prone to inclement weather. GIS has also become critical in tracking shipping information. As shipments cross checkpoints throughout the day, customers can track the locations of their orders. Managers can also track their drivers’ locations to make sure their transportation systems are operating efficiently.

3. Private Navigation Use
If you have ever used a GPS to find your way somewhere, then you have made use of GIS technologies. GPS receivers use data from the group of satellites known as the Global Positioning System to provide information about geographic location to people all over the world.

As GIS technology has improved, GPS systems have become more accurate and therefore more useful. Search programs like Google Maps have also become more sophisticated with time, providing correct directions in an increasing number of locations. In fact, Google Maps was the most popular smartphone app in the world in 2013. Due to the convenience and peace of mind provided by GIS technologies, many people rely on them exclusively for navigation in their daily lives.

GIS Is Here to Stay
The internet has shrunk the world, making it more critical than ever for locational data to be accessible throughout the globe. GIS technologies are useful to people from all walks of life, whether they are government workers, private business owners, or regular citizens trying to find their way. As GIS technologies continue to improve, the settings in which people use them will continue to become more unique and ground-breaking.