Mapping Floods and flood disaster zones with GIS maps
GIS maps are becoming more and more popular across the Philippines and all over the world. The technology is particularly helpful for residents and LGU officials concerned with flooding, which is common in the Philippines due to frequent typhoons and extreme weather.
With GIS maps residents and LGUs can look up where in the flood zone their property falls, and can use this information to for emergency planning and managing.
With just the click of a mouse, they can toggle on and off layers showing various types of information and compare the current flood maps.
Being able to turn on and off layers is a huge benefit, because right away you can see the changes.
Paper flood maps can be hard to read and understand, because all the layers are printed on them and have to be viewed all at once.
GIS, or geographic information system, applications are programs that display geographic and spatial data. Typically, the data is shown on an interactive digital map that allows users to access information about property values, environmental features, transportation infrastructure and other data.
Traditionally used by tax assessors, policymakers and planners, GIS maps are starting to find a wider audience.
Over the past 10 years or so, GIS mapping systems have continually improved, and will become even more interactive and informative for users as time goes on.
Even GPS devices and smartphone apps that allow users to find the closest restaurants or shops utilize GIS technology. The growing connection between GIS maps and everyday life is constantly evolving.
More and more uses are getting connected to mapping systems, and the public are becoming increasingly much better informed about the technology.
Beyond flood map issues, the maps play a role in day-to-day situations with the planning and building departments. In both locations, LGU officials can pull up the map and look at a property and its surroundings and give feedback on whether residents can get variances and address similar concerns.
Other GIS applications aimed at everyday citizens include interactive maps of scenic areas, farmers markets and railroads.
The Philippines Department of transportation, police, and fire departments all use GIS in their own ways.
The health department can use it to track citations it has issued and violations across town, police can use it to accumulate and access data on past incidents on a given property, and first responders can use it to find a proper landing spot for a helicopter if a patient has to be airlifted to a hospital. The DPW uses it to keep track of sewer lines, water mains and hydrants.
A goal of the GIS maps is to provide data in a useful way to help municipal departments, state officials and, increasingly, the public.
Once the data is collected, GIS users can use specialized software to create custom maps built around specific queries. A GIS user, for example, could make a map of all buildings of a certain size and property value within a defined proximity of an airport or train station.
The technology is also a crucial tool for urban planners, assessors and environmental agencies.