An New Year, But Spatial Questions Abound

As we approach Inauguration Day for the incoming U.S. Presidential Administration, I continue to hope that geospatial information technology (IT) serves as an important decision-support tool for many of the Administration’s primary agenda items. It is only by thoroughly understanding the spatial context of many of these issues that more informed decision-making occurs.

If we are truly going to ‘build the wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border, we can target funding by leveraging mapping technology and U.S Customs and Border Protection’s spatial data to discern where high levels of border penetrations are actually occurring, avoiding costly construction along vast stretches of border without justification. 

Recently, rumors about transferring management of significant portions of federal lands to the States abound, yet again. However, multiple States express anxiety about their ability to financially support the effective management of those lands, and the hunting and environmentalist communities are forming an interesting partnership to push back against the concept. Using mapping technology to analyze the options for this spatial and financial question could result in identifying the most suitable candidates for land ownership transfer.

Should a significant infrastructure investment program evolve, the best method to support decision making is to analyze the distribution of the failing infrastructure, evaluate the spatial contiguity of projects to determine the ability to share construction resources, and weight potential candidates based on their proximity to population centers or high use. The resulting decision-support model would help to optimize infrastructure investment.

These are just a few of the items on the agenda of the incoming Administration. This is not rocket science, but knowledge and skills that are available from thousands of geographic information system (GIS) professionals throughout the U.S. I am sure I am not alone in hoping that smart minds and good tools, like GIS, are leveraged to determine the path forward.