Are you aware of the fact that GIS models play a significant role in economic development?

Geographical information systems have been playing a great role in recording and presenting ecological and global geographical data that helps government and private professionals to make better decisions regarding the cities. This post will help you understand why GIS is of utmost importance for better economic development.

The Sudden Escalation of GIS and its Impact

Not so long ago, few organizations had any understanding of geographical information systems and most of the planning and development work took years to implement. Things seemed to be moving in slow motion until GIS entered the market like a disease outbreak. Today, it is almost impossible to find any private or government business that has not been engulfed in the rising tide of GIS applications.

Most of you are probably aware of what GIS applications are and how they help various government and private businesses. Virtually, all the natural resources departments and planning and development institutions have a GIS specialist who deals with spatial data every day to find a better way to approach different issues.

In fact, there is no government or private sector that doesn’t utilize various GIS models to achieve efficiency in every day operations. GIS is used for myriad operations that include topographic analysis, facility management, resource exploration, logistics routing, engineering design, demographic analysis, network analysis, corridor selection, site selection and land management, to name a few. Figure 1 represents the various applications of geographic information systems that are utilized in both government and private sectors.


Fig.1 – GIS and its applications

Why is GIS important for Economic Development?

Economic development is the keystone for productive and successful businesses and GIS models can ensure that there is a stable economic flow that keeps the government and private sector in its best possible shape. Economic developers are always in need for effective tools that will help them record and store information, conduct analysis and disseminate results to make better decisions regarding various economic issues, and GIS can provide such tools.

GIS offers powerful tools and models that can help economic developers find the ways to sustain economic growth and recover from economic distress. GIS models provide the tools for analysis, data assimilation, visualization, modeling and collaboration that help economic developers to look at the complete picture before they reach a decision. Figure 2 portrays how a GIS application uses a layer-based model to help economists research and plan through categorized geographical data.


Fig.2 – A GIS uses a layer-based information model to describe our land

Relevance of GIS to Applied Economists

GIS has become the most important tool for geographical planning and analysis for economists and government professionals. GIS models are especially useful for problem solving and problem evaluation. Combined with technological advancements, they prove a dynamic tool for economists, who usually spend their hours working with spatial data, to plan and evaluate economic data to make better decisions.

Applied economists use spatial data to obtain significant information and then use that information to solve specific problems. The GIS models can help applied economists in understanding various prevailing issues some of which include, but are not limited to:

  • How to minimize the effect of agricultural chemicals on drinking water?
  • How to assess the economic losses?
  • How to determine the locations that can be appropriate for hazardous waste treatment?
  • What will be the cost associated with various development projects?


The wave of myriad GIS applications has touched every sector of our society. With the fast pacing technology, it is foreseeable that in the near future GIS will have an even stronger effect on both private and government sectors than it has today. GIS can help applied economists by providing the right tools for data assimilation that can not only help with the decision making, but can also help in recovering from cruel economic downturns.

Question: Can you think of a GIS model that can be a great economic development tool? Or have you ever worked with any of the GIS models? Use the comment section below to Share your opinion with us.

Geographic Information Systems and Applied Economics: An Initial Discussion of Potential Applications and Contributions by Richard Taupier and Cleve Willis Retrieved from