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Creating a sustainable urban infrastructure with GIS data

By The Fulcrum Team
August 22, 2023

As urban spaces grow and evolve, governments often face challenges in finding the right balance in urban infrastructure between sustainable development and residents’ needs.

More than just a mapping tool, Geographic Information System (GIS) has emerged as a powerful way to create urban spaces that prioritize both people and the planet, acting as a bridge between data and strategic action. From green rooftops in New York City to cycling lanes in Copenhagen, global cities are leveraging GIS to implement data-driven sustainable development. As urbanization and climate threats grow, stakeholders across sectors – property developers, governments, NGOs, GIS managers, or field operations teams – increasingly recognize the urgent need to use GIS data for sustainable urban planning. In our digital era, this means employing advanced digital GIS data collection platforms to guarantee the highest data quality and accuracy while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the many advantages that a GIS data collection platform can bring to creating sustainable urban infrastructure, the implementation challenges it faces, and the future possibilities it promises.

Moving beyond mapping with GIS

More than just mapping physical features, GIS technology can also identify patterns and relationships within the data. By collecting, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data, GIS data collection platforms help GIS managers and field ops technicians pull together a comprehensive and accurate view of any number of urban elements under consideration and how they interact.

In recent years, cities around the world have used GIS data to develop sustainable urban infrastructure projects, including:

  • Portland, Oregon. Using real-time GIS data on transportation networks and population densities, city planners designed more effective public transportation routes, reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion.
  • New York City, New York. GIS data helped decision-makers find and select buildings that could optimize energy efficiency with environmental considerations, facilitating the rapid growth of green rooftops.
  • Copenhagen, Denmark. Using GIS data to analyze cycling patterns, the city implemented safer and more efficient cycling routes to encourage residents to adopt cycling as a more sustainable transportation option.
  • Bangalore, India. GIS data ensures the city’s rapid expansion doesn’t interfere with or spoil the region’s critically needed natural water reservoirs.

GIS product made after processing aerial pictures taken from a drone to visualize creating sustainable urban infrastructure with GIS data blog

Why more cities are using GIS data for sustainable development

These examples illustrate the benefits of utilizing GIS data for sustainable urban development, underpinned by the diverse advantages of GIS data collection technology, including:

  • Data analysis and visualization. GIS data collection platforms allow for analysis and visualization of spatial data to identify patterns, trends, and areas requiring intervention.
  • Access to high-quality data. Connected in the cloud, GIS managers and field teams will always have access to accurate, up-to-date, and reliable information.
  • Informed decision-making. Quality GIS data – alongside an in-depth analysis of patterns and trends – forms the foundation of informed decision-making that lead to more successful outcomes.
  • Resource optimization. Most cities operate under severe resource limitations. By harnessing GIS data to make better data-driven decisions, cities optimize resources to implement cost-effective sustainability projects more efficiently.
  • User-friendly applications. Modern GIS data collection platforms offer intuitive, user-friendly interfaces so that all stakeholders, even those without a technical background, can harness the power of GIS data.
  • Contextual information. GIS data collection platforms allow users to include additional contextual information such as images to automatically captured geolocation data.
  • Predictive analysis. By integrating diverse data, GIS platforms predict urban growth and infrastructure needs, aiding cities in preparing for future development challenges.
  • Integration with other data systems. GIS data collection platforms integrate with other digital tools and databases to deliver a complete picture of the urban environment.

The long-term future of sustainability

GIS technology also serves as a pivotal tool in long-term urban sustainability efforts such as:

  • Proactive climate action. As extreme weather events increase in frequency and severity, GIS technology enables proactive action against climate threats, such as San Franciso’s monitoring of sea-level rise and coastal erosion.
  • Sustainable social equity. GIS data highlights urban disparities, improving equitable access to public amenities like parks, transportation, and healthcare.
  • Environmentally friendly development. By identifying fragile ecosystems like green spaces and wetlands, GIS data ensures that urban development doesn’t harm the environment.
  • Enhanced disaster preparedness. GIS data pinpoints disaster-prone areas, aiding resilient infrastructure design to withstand or swiftly recover from catastrophic events.

Overcoming GIS hurdles with modern technology

Integrating GIS comes with hurdles, notably handling vast data volumes, a key concern for intricate urban projects in crowded zones. Data overload can strain resources and affect data accuracy, making it difficult to guarantee data sets reflect the ground reality. To tackle these challenges effectively, a strong GIS data collection platform is essential. It harnesses cloud computing, machine learning, and analytics for streamlined and precise data collection and analysis.

By directly integrating GIS into its app, a top platform like Fulcrum equips stakeholders, from government officials to field teams, with accessible tools for leveraging GIS data in urban development. Whether crafting a public park, enhancing transportation, or fostering equitable sustainability, this approach drives effective progress.

Building the future with GIS Data

Amid growing environmental pressures, harnessing GIS data for urban sustainability becomes vital for resilient infrastructure and resource management. However, GIS is more than just about maps or spatial data – it’s about smart, sustainable decision-making. The difference between cities with dwindling resources and sustainable urban oases can be the effective use of GIS data. GIS platforms link challenges to future solutions, empowering global cities to build sustainable, resilient, and inclusive urban environments.

Ready to enhance your sustainable urban infrastructure projects with Fulcrum’s data collection platform complete with GIS information? Sign up for a no-obligation 30-minute chat with one of our experts to get started today!