Geographic information systems (GIS) have become an indispensable tool in our modern-day lives, allowing us to visualize, analyze and interpret geographic data in ways that were once unimaginable. From checking the news or weather on our smartphones to utilizing industry systems to ensure products reach their destinations, GIS is critical to our everyday conveniences.
But GIS is not just a convenience; it is also an essential component of scientific research and innovation. Epidemiologists use GIS 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 use it to study global conflict and immigration, while urban planners and engineers rely on it to determine the best places for new development and infrastructure.
The U.S. National Science Foundation has played a central 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, computer science, geology, anthropology, and education. This continued support demonstrates the importance of GIS in our modern world and its ongoing relevance to a wide range of fields.