He says GIS was largely used only as a technical tool until the 1990’s. Today, he says it is increasingly being used for “social linkages.”
Public participation using GIS is on the rise. Ganapati says services like Google Transit, which allows users to gather real-time traffic and navigation information overlaid on to Google Maps, are examples of this phenomenon.
This kind of citizen volunteered geographic information (VGI) helps GIS become more accurate and immersive.
“Essentially, citizens act as censors in the field who are intelligent enough to gather information about their surroundings,” Ganapati says.
GIS users can even influence government behavior.
“There is a use of GIS for public participation in planning and decision-making,” Ganapati says.
For example, Ganapati says the city of Portland used GIS tools to gather citizen feedback about proposed public transportation route expansions.
Ganapati says this technology also has important implications for disaster management.