How Does the Government Use GIS Technology

Gabrielle Olivier 


November 23, 2020

How Does the Government Use GIS Technology

Along with federal and state entities, using GIS for local government bodies such as townships, cities and counties can be highly beneficial. Analyzing geospatial data for government agencies can accomplish many essential tasks, such as:

  • Managing resources;
  • Showing environmental impacts;
  • Displaying prospective land and other properties;
  • Enabling logistics planning and modeling;
  • Providing information to law enforcement;
  • Visualizing land planning;
  • Giving an interactive portal for mapping and communication.

From points of national security intelligence in a secure database to county maps that help farmers form a crop plan, mapping and geospatial data offer many benefits for public service entities and local governments. Here are 11 of them.

Crime Analysis

One of the great powers of GIS and geospatial data is how it shows geographic and even time-lapse patterns. Law enforcement of all levels uses it to map crime locations and then respond with appropriate resources.

Police commonly use GIS to analyze crime patterns. For example, they can identify and monitor problem areas as well as profile offenders. Countless public-safety agencies use it to reference and evaluate threats of different kinds and to conduct all levels of crime investigation.

The data are like an assistant in the field that can instantly analyze the problem or phenomenon and then visualize several scenarios based on the input. GIS and geospatial data can also be used to implement officer-accountability programs and systems.

Citizens can form virtual neighborhood watches using GIS, too. Law enforcement facilitates it sometimes, because vigilant, local citizens at work can bring them enhanced neighborhood-level information. Many departments across the country have credited the use of GIS in achieving such objectives as residential burglary reduction and better tracking of parolees.

As different policies are rolled out in police departments across the nation, an agency-specific GIS database gives officers and administrators a chance to see how implemented policy affects operations. If an agency changes the lengths of shifts or gains an officer, the system can help them see and demonstrate how that affects public safety. The same principle applies to modeling and testing crime theories.

Emergency Responses

Many officials use geospatial data to plan emergency responses because it helps them coordinate the efforts of various teams and resources most efficiently and quickly.

Geospatial data for government planning is practically a standard in emergency response because the data sets available through it can pinpoint the best places where, for example, a temporary hospital would be. It enables officials to evaluate power supplies, transportation access, land characteristics and other factors.

The data can generate maps of theoretical responses, evacuation routes and alternatives. GIS will also produce an accurate map of the incident area. Responders see what areas are affected in real time so they know where to dispatch resources, and the public can see what areas it should avoid as well as take advantage of citizen-helper applications.

A strong advantage of using GIS data for government applications as well as for emergency management and response is how it can be layered with data from other agencies. For example, directors could pluck available data from the U.S. Census Bureau to see where the highest concentrations of senior citizens or schools are in an area.

Responders can model various disasters and see how they would affect a neighborhood, city, region, state, the county or even the globe. GIS helps all emergency responders refine their approach to disasters, including police, firefighters, paramedics and others.

Financial Services

GIS has carved out a role in the financial world, too. In almost the same way law enforcement uses it to show trends and trouble spots, the financial industry can use GIS as a multi-layered source of information about current economic conditions.

In real estate, for example, the system can produce maps, track data and look back in history to guide decisions. All kinds of government agencies, as well as investors and economic development professionals, use GIS to extract valuable financial information.

It’s hard to imagine in America not being able to find a bank or money agent, but in some countries struggling to develop, finding financial services is a challenge. There are open-market data sources in the financial world that can be integrated into GIS.

GIS and geospatial data contribute to the success of microloan and microfinance programs to help developing countries and places of great need. People all over the world contribute small amounts of money that can be used by others located half a world away, where a $50 or $100 loan can make a life-changing difference. Financial service is one more way geospatial and GIS data for a government can be utilized.

Homeland Security

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security developed an enterprise system to help it identify, track and secure the locations of important people, infrastructure and other assets. The Integrated Common Analytical Viewer (iCAV) enables online viewing, geoprocessing and data management, among other features.

The system gives decision-makers tools in several locations to see threat or activity locations and coordinate response and recovery. For example, users can pull up a real-time wall-map display that shows nuclear plants and major chemical facilities.

The iCAV system joins formerly disparate systems into one. It gives the approximately 180,000 employees of homeland security and all of its contractors a common place to check in and get a briefing including pictures. It does not require a high level of GIS expertise to access and use effectively.

GIS for the federal government is evident in the number of agencies that use it. Each agency has its enterprise method of using GIS data for homeland security, and it can share across those platforms as well.

Human Services

GIS provides solutions within the health and human services arena, with its power to pull data on everything from the number of households in a given zip code to how many health facilities are within a region. The use of zip-code GIS data for government planning is common across many sectors of public service. For example, social workers with access to it might pull up foster homes in the same school district as a child who needs placement.

GIS for government human services works because it gives responsible insight that can pinpoint outbreaks of an illness or disease. A geospatial mapping system could, for example, show where sicknesses have been reported plus draw lines or shapes to depict at-risk areas.

Mapping and data solutions enable cleaner air at the same time they facilitate more efficient transportation. Many systems are designed to pinpoint problem areas and then route drivers around them to reduce overall emissions. The maps also show when and where air quality is bad, and alerts may be warranted.

Service Routing

Efficient routing of trash pickup, leaf collection, snow plowing, and other services reduces costs and fuel expenditures. The United States Postal Service uses geospatial data to coordinate mail delivery and routes.

A common scenario is that a business owner figures they can determine the best routes, and they’re not wrong. However, when they’re successful and the operation grows, the routing task takes more and more time. GIS and geospatial data make fast route changes and real-time adjustments possible.

GIS and geospatial data can boost efficiency at any business that requires timely deliveries, arrival times and other transportation. A customized GIS has many capabilities:

  • Show real-time maps and adapt routes to optimize travel;
  • Give weather information that aids trips;
  • Rework and consolidate routes with a few mouse clicks;
  • Map the closest and cheapest places to refuel with gasoline, compressed air, salt or fuel oil;
  • Accurately measure the road mileage of a given area;
  • Draw specific shapes onto street maps for crew- and project-specific tasks.


Any strong tourism program or chamber of commerce office offer maps and information. To be successful, that same program or chamber will know about every public service serving business within a wide radius.

Tourism professionals must be ready to field questions and give answers from prospective investors, business owners and residents about various points of interest in the region. They might provide information to people traveling on business or leisure, plus they cater to the hometown people with local events.

GIS and geospatial data help create a database of many features that might not otherwise be known, such as:

  • Antique malls
  • Bowling alleys
  • Arenas and entertainment venues
  • Casinos
  • Electric-car charging stations
  • Hotels/motels/inns
  • Farmers’ markets
  • Parking
  • Racetracks
  • Riding stables
  • Restaurants
  • Retail shops
  • Skating rinks
  • Specialty businesses
  • Theaters

Just about anything anyone would seek as an entertainment or adventure could be incorporated into a GIS database for the benefit of visitors, residents and the people who serve them.

Water and Sewer

Any municipality must keep a close watch on its infrastructure including all its miles of sewer, water and storm-water pipes, as well as pumps and processing facilities. Add onto that culverts, grates and other accouterment, and it totals thousands of elements. GIS and geospatial data effectively map all the utilities.

Maps and a utility database can enhance service to the public since they help to plan and prioritize projects such as future expansion and possible enhancements. Most government entities use the geospatial data to support other departments, too.

Here are a few examples of the kinds of services an internal, government-based GIS team provides:

  • Determine where water and sewer are available;
  • Show and map the results of fire-flow tests;
  • Create custom maps;
  • Analyze sets of data;
  • Support GPS-based products;
  • Manage records;
  • Map watershed boundaries, zoning classes and more.

Within the software that enables manipulation of the geospatial data in your system is the capability to turn on an unlimited number of layers to show different features. Government mapping with GIS proves useful not just in the everyday work of replacing segments and locating leaks but also in presentations to the public. Large-scale examples of the map can be printed and shared.

Zoning, Growth and Taxes

Government staff, citizens and prospective developers all have questions about a community and its economic potential. For example, a commercial investor might be thinking about a new retail area and want to see a map showing all the city’s retail establishments within a three-mile radius.

Maybe a family is thinking about a move and wants to check out the various residential developments. A small business might look to start in a community and be interested to know about available industrial space. With GIS and other geospatial data, all of them can see various zones within a jurisdiction or region.

GIS for mapping government services adds the ability to create mapping zones, examine property ownership, track school-district boundaries and create growth plans. Geospatial data is a strong economic development tool since it can help attract new business and residents, as well as assist the ones already in a community.

Korem offers you the expertise in GIS and geospatial data required to devise functional solutions across different industries and businesses. Each one has unique needs.

Airport Operations

Geospatial data and GIS are at the heart of the aviation industry with airspace maps, flight patterns and other data needed by aviation planners, air-traffic controllers and pilots. Those in the profession realize the pressure put on airports, airlines and other sectors of aviation to fly more routes and more people.

As demand grows, the target for air-safety professionals has basically been to shrink the amount of space each aircraft has to operate. Less space and tight routes demand absolute accuracy and efficiency, which GIS can deliver based on coordinates data. For example, it is, of course, essential that a system be able to accurately map terrain, such as the height and breadth of objects.

GIS also enables airports to locate and identify objects around its runways and perimeter. For example, maybe a municipal airport wants to expand its runway so it can accommodate bigger planes and grow the facility. A GIS-based analysis will bring to light everything from fences and buildings to utilities and other hidden obstacles.

The versatile nature of geospatial and GIS data for government gives the aviation industry options for organization, analysis, modeling, presentation and communication.


GIS data helps citizens see the possibilities in visual-map form and to participate in the processes such as elections and redistricting. Elected officials accountable to their constituents typically want such tools and the feedback they encourage.

The U.S. Forest Service uses GIS and other forms of geospatial data to disseminate information about America’s forests. The platforms also help collect data and enable more accurate science.

A map proves the best tool in many situations where a government agency is responsible for helping people find, see or understand something. Citizens may need to look for a state park, transportation network or health department near them, and GIS provides a portal to it.

The varied capabilities of GIS and other geospatial-data content mean that when needed, the portal can be a two-way communication tool. Nearly all government entities have capital, comprehensive and other kinds of long-term plans for which they must collect and organize public feedback.

Maps generated from GIS content help people understand more of the big picture in any issue, and there are many kinds of geospatial platforms capable of capturing people’s input.

Contact Korem to Learn More About Using GIS for Government Agencies

We have the combination of excellent, personal service along with the strength of resources to serve large agencies. Korem features solutions with the most up-to-date map data available today. Please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can discuss how GIS and geospatial data fit your government entity’s needs.

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