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How GIS and Maps Improve Public Discourse

One of the technologies that is going to be shaping government drastically in the coming years is GIS. GIS holds the ability to extract knowledge from big data, leverage the cloud for efficiencies, improve communications with citizens and help drive improved decision making for organizations. We’ve written quite a bit about the power of GIS this year on GovLoop, and how it is transforming government (shared a few links below).

It’s clear that GIS can play an essential role in improving the way our nation engages in a constructive and positive discourse. By creating visually compelling maps, communities can discuss issues based on data and trends, and then move towards finding the right solution for their community.

A constructive and positive public discourse is something that our nation desperately needs. We are facing dozens of difficult decisions that require our leaders and communities to rise above partisan stances, and work towards effective communication to transform communities.

In my opinion, at the heart of a positive discourse is effective storytelling. That’s why a recent story map on hydro fracking caught my eye. In many parts of the country, fracking has become a contentious issue, as many see it as an untapped resource and area for economic growth, while others fear that the process of fracking puts our communities in danger of various environmental disasters and health risks. The process of “fracking” is controversial – as it requires high pressure water to fracture shale deposits, and then allow gas to be collected through wells.

The Story Map created by the Smithsonian shows where fracking is taking place across the country, and allows for people to compare activities to help understand the impact of fracking in these communities.

Here’s some screen shots of the Story Map:

GIS has the ability to work to transform our communities, and opens the door for constructive conversations, allowing people to act in the best interest of their communities.

Additional GIS Resources:

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Esri was founded in 1969, it realized even then that geographic information system (GIS) technology could make a difference in society. GIS helps people to solve problems at local, regional, national, and global scales. Access maps and apps at ArcGIS.com. Be sure to check out all the
 GIS resources produced by Esri and GovLoop.

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