No better example of how GIS can be used to change and perhaps save lives is the health services sector. The application of GIS technology in the health sector enables health professionals to more accurately model the general population and therefore more implement health strategies more effectively and efficiently.
Around the world, health services now use Geographical Information systems equipped with digital topographical mapping, the national geocode database, administrative boundaries in conjunction with census data such as health/mortality, demographic and deprivation statistics in order to identify health trends that may be missed by personnel on the ground.
Clusters of certain illness and diseases are more easily identified when recorded and reviewed in a GIS, as data presented and queried visually on a map can yield far more intuitive intelligence to health professionals than plain lists of data. This can aid Chronic Disease Surveillance.
For example, a notifiable disease spreading in a cluster of schools in a region can be identified rapidly with a GIS and treatment commenced as response time is often critical. The dissemination of spatial, clinical and administrative data with a GIS can aid health services tackle budget and staffing issues, resulting in increased quality of care, cost effectiveness and health service access to all citizens.
A further use of such a GIS is the emergency services. Spatial awareness can save lives. For example, fire and ambulance crews responding to an emergency can be far more effective when supported by a GIS. This spatial technology can pinpoint the accident location and direct responding services accordingly, using the most efficient route.
Hazards/obstacles in the vicinity (power lines, traffic, buildings etc.) can be highlighted and fire crews can also quickly find the nearest fire hydrants. Safe and secure locations for landing air ambulances can also be identified with the aid of topographical mapping. In conclusion, GIS can help inform proper understanding of issues and assist health professionals to make better decisions when time matters most and lives are at stake.