Geographic information systems (GIS) have become an integral part of our modern-day lives, from using them on our smartphones to check the news and weather, to utilizing them in various industries. GIS is a computer-based tool used to store, visualize, analyze and interpret geographic data. It combines layers of information about roads, topography, weather conditions, landmarks, businesses and more, which are displayed on maps.
The use of GIS extends far beyond our everyday lives, reaching various scientific applications. Epidemiologists use it to map the spread of disease, ecologists to understand wildlife movement, and climate scientists to comprehend changes in glaciers, sea levels and regional weather patterns. Social scientists also use GIS to study global conflict and immigration, while urban planners and engineers utilize it to determine the best places for new development and infrastructure.
The U.S. National Science Foundation has played a pivotal role in the development and growth of GIS-related technology and science. In the past two years alone, the foundation has awarded about 180 grants totaling more than $83 million to support research related to GIS in fields such as geography, math