How can GIS systems respond to the climate catastrophe?

How can GIS systems respond to the climate catastrophe? ...

Matthew McConaughey, an Oscar-winning actor, played in a Superbowl LVI commercial urging us to concentrate on improving Earth instead of fleeing to other planets. Nevertheless, while others look to the Metaverse and Mars, lets stay here and restore ours. He has a point.

With unprecedented drought conditions, harsh wildfire seasons, more frequent and severe winter storms, and other severe departures from normal conditions, the heaviest of California is drying, New England is flooding, and Texas is freezing. What is still the infrastructure required to adapt to changing ecosystems? Communities across the country are confronted with new problems that must be addressed. There are amazing, unungered technologies to help us navigate these challenges.

I am fortunate to be part of a team at a public utility (San Jose Water) who uses one of these techniques: geographic information systems (GIS). Every day, we work to develop water safety and public resource stewardship for over a million people in Silicon Valley. We hope that someday our blueprints will be implemented across the country.

GIS technologies are assisting us in repurposing and monitoring the vast infrastructure web of underground piping in San Jose Waters. In a variety of ways, this large database of data collection and analysis tools enhances conservation, agility, and maintenance capabilities.

GIS thinking is designed to transform data into a multibillion-dollar digital world, allowing us to discern and understand the conditions that shape our infrastructure and how they all interact. It''s a unique realm in which data scientists may be able to pursue sustainable solutions alongside the ones they are already driving.

A large amount of water per year is wasted for our organization, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2021, we saved an estimated 346 million gallons of water.

GIS past and present

The first computerized GIS was developed in 1963 and used by the Canadian government to map natural resources for a national land-use management program. Soon after in 1965, the Harvard Laboratory for Computer Graphics was established as a research center for GIS and computer map-making software.

In 1969, the Environmental Systems Research Institute, also known as Esri, established as a land-use consulting company. In the 1980s, Esri became a software corporation, becoming the industry standard for GIS. Other GIS innovators have since established their roots in the United States.

GIS technology is now used in a wide range of applications, from sustainable energy transitions to better farming practices and even disaster response.

Originally crudely drawn paper maps were the only form of mapping, making teams consider infrastructure maintenance locations based on age or topographical disruption. Today, GIS mapping allows engineers and field crews to visually visualize underground systems with an accuracy of one centimeter.

GIS'' spatial data enhances familiar visualization tools such as Tableau and Power BI. The ability to place information relative to space and location enables users to understand the significance of the data and explore situations. At my work, field crews can see the map of our underground assets as well as the manufacture of various pipes, materials, installation date, or the size of the water main. GIS also conducts network traces to identify which valves or customers would be affected if a leak or shutoff in several areas across the system.

We used to have our GIS internally managed; today it is being reconstructed onto the Esris cloud. Further digitizing our assets eases an IT burden and allows us to scale dynamically. This kind of digital situational awareness also mitigates large breakages or piping failures in a drought- and earthquake-prone region like ours.

Climate change and the future

GIS is assisting our conservation efforts on the West Coast, but it was also critical when SJWTX discovered the Texas Freeze of February 2021. Emergency personnel in central Texas were able to quickly locate and repair frozen and burst pipes with precision imaging.

Future GIS innovations may include the integration of augmented reality (AR) for visualizing whole geographic plains or interactive data-driven maintenance plans with high-accuracy GPS on a phone or tablet.

GIS will be a critical tool to provide real-time data during natural disasters, by using drones to map wildfires and hot spots or drain floodwaters to protect human lives and show where water needs to be directed.

In addition to how more homes develop air quality sensors, that data might be shared and used by city planners, public health organizations, and businesses to target air filter supply or distribution of N-95 masks during the wildfire season. Incredible opportunities are on the way.

GIS is not a single field of study, but rather a critical thinking process, and technical skills vary depending on industry and application. Esri offers online courses on a variety of GIS-related topics, from cartographic design to spatial analytics. Other GIS specialists include a combination of color theory and graphic editing software, and intuitive design sense. GIS is also an exciting data science career, which is constantly evolving and increasing in demand. The areas of city planning and development, epidemiology, public utilities, and more are integrating

Even without Matthew McConaughey''s encouragement, we all have the responsibility to live in a positive change on our planet and our communities. But there are also many other methods to make an impact with data especially when it comes to managing and safeguarding natural resources. GIS technology is vital for everyone on #TeamEarth.

Totran Mai has been GIS Supervisor in San Jose Water for 14 years, including in the development of cartographic products and GIS systems, as well as in the administration and provision of enterprise databases.

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