A Study in GIS: An Explanation of the Technology Through the Marauder’s Map

One of the best elements of “Harry Potter” is the fascinating Marauder’s Map. The Map identifies every single person that inhabits the Hogwarts castle itself, any secret passageways and the entirety of the school grounds. The Map could not be fooled by things like invisibility cloaks, but was restricted by the “plottable” parameters of the Castle. Similarly, geographic information systems (GIS) rely on collected geographical data to power the reach and effectiveness of its technology.

GIS tools facilitate the collecting, organizing and analyzing of geographical data so that users can draw on that data to improve sales territory, field service and construction operations. The visualizations of GIS solutions help users of GIS draw on the insights gathered from the data to improve their field service operations and assess any areas of improvement in business operations based on collected map data.   

Adds Context to Data Points

GIS tools automate the menial and time-consuming task of wrestling information into and out of an asset depository database. The data that a GIS solution stores, cleans and retrieves is vital for the user who wants to build relationships between distinct data points. This is particularly helpful when users are working on multiple projects with myriad workflows. In the “Harry Potter” books, the data points of the Marauder’s Map are tiny depictions of the physical individuals. In the films, the data points are wandering footprints.

Either way, while the Map itself is static (in that the layout cannot be edited or updated), it’s still very capable of handling large amounts of data. Additionally, the Marauder’s Map cannot be hoodwinked by invisibility cloaks, Polyjuice Potions or animagus transformations. Even Peeves the Poltergeist shows up on the parchment! While GIS solutions aren’t quite as advanced as the Map in identifying who exactly is moving around Hogwarts at any given time, it does have its perks as well.

Two of the key benefits of GIS tools are the clarification of relationships between seemingly unconnected qualities and the isolation of individual aspects of a graphed area. According to G2 Crowd users, the majority of GIS tools integrates nicely with modeling softwares and Excel-type spreadsheet tool. That means that any processed data can be turned into predictive models which has the extra boon of the software working in near real time.

User Roles and Access

GIS solutions come in a variety of skill levels, ranging from very user-friendly to extremely technical, from open-source to tailored very specifically to an industry. While the analytics capabilities of GIS are enhanced through the software’s integrations with computer-aided design (CAD) software, building information modeling (BIM) software and other drafting and design software, GIS relies on the distribution of user roles to organize and oversee access to the software. One immediate benefit of restricting access to data that a user painstakingly collects, maps out and analyzes is that they can provide their client with the data they require as well as the freedom for the client to use that cleaned data for their own purposes. GIS users no longer have to micromanage the data; they can simply transfer the data between softwares or users and concentrate on solving real-world problems quickly and productively.

In order to access the entire contents of the Marauder’s Map, the user must proclaim, “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” In order to wipe the contents from the parchment, to hide from view, the user must recite, “Mischief Managed.” Additionally, the Map has a fail-safe: If an unauthorized user attempted to breach the Map’s contents, the Map has the ability to deny entry. Along those same lines, GIS functionality and breadth can also scale according to database need. For example, if a user wants to expand their geological exploratory work for petroleum, GIS facilitates the creation of depositional environment maps with efficiency.

GIS tools can even be used to combine all data and maps into a singular location and disperse it throughout their networks. Users can also use GIS solutions to provide maps, full of up-to-date data and discovered relationships between data points, which can then be distributed to clients and organizations without the fear of unauthorized edits to that data.

Discovers Efficiencies

GIS data is incorporated into a business’ reporting system to find answers in efficiency. Do you want your field service workers to find quicker routes and maximize time spent on a site? Do you want to discover the areas that are too concentrated with workers or not concentrated enough? Typical implementations of GIS databases can result in savings in operational expenses, particularly regarding anything that relies on digitized conversions of accurate data.

Similarly, the Marauder’s Map gives you one tool to attempt to keep your wits around you as you navigate the depths of the castle. Hogwarts is a castle with a mind of its own. The staircases move, doors pretend to be walls and vice versa, classes can be held in rooms situated in the very top of the tower or down in the lower levels. How can anyone or anything keep track of the entire castle? By taking a look at the Marauder’s Map and discovering secret passageways or unexplored rooms and leveraging those features.

So What’s Next?

GIS users rely on the software to make their overall professional lives easier. The various applications of geospatial maps are difficult enough, investing in a software that can automate the tasks of creating maps, producing design, analyzing data points, exporting data from platform to platform and managing off-site locations can yield great benefits.

What do you use GIS tools for? If you don’t, what aspects of your field would benefit from automation and a unified platform of ownership? Check out the reviews users have left about various GIS solutions and figure out if any of the solutions would work for you as an individual or as an organization. While you’re there, explore the “Learn” tab of the category page, where you can read myriad business problems solved through the use of the software as well as the various buying considerations that should inform your future investment in a GIS tool.

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