Where is the Cloud in GIS for Watershed Management?

GIS Contributor


Barbara Horvatic, the Marketing Manager at GIS Cloud, explains how using a cloud-based GIS can help create a collaborative environment for pulling together and manipulate disparate datasets.  

With the recent increase in frequency of flooding events (followed by the usual ‘I haven’t seen this in the past hundred years’ comment), a GIS-related observation came to mind. It is highly unlikely that we will ever be 100% sure in terms of preventing ‘Mother Nature’s rage’, but we do have tools to help with the side effects of these events. So what would be some of the key values when talking about GIS for evaluating watershed conditions and environmental processes affecting them? Technology, Cloud and Collaboration come to mind.

Taking advantage of technology

It’s there so why not use it. Different apps and tools are being developed and upgraded constantly so keeping track of them is quite a challenge. Planners, consultants and decision makers recognize the spatial significance of resource management at a water body scale. So here comes GIS to save the day. But how, you might ask yourself? Do I need to be a GIS expert to incorporate tools into a water oriented decision making plan? Not at all as the beauty of GIS is to adapt it to your needs and your workflow. User friendly apps, developed for both GIS and non-GIS experts are ‘the thing’ to look for.

Bring in the Cloud

Why lock yourself to the desktop? Water management thrives on data from the field so having the timely and accurate collected data helps you to:

  • understand relationships between variables being monitored
  • communicate impacts on water and environment
  • compare historic and new data to make effective strategies

So, where is the Cloud in GIS you ask, and where is the connection with water? Cloud helps you to have your newly collected data and previously obtained data available to you from any place, any device, at any time. Follow the progress from the field while being on a different side of the world, and decision making becomes ‘real’ in real time.

Orange County Watershed Map in GIS Cloud's Map Editor
Orange County Watershed Map in GIS Cloud’s Map Editor

Collaborate to the fullest

Isn’t this the most important value of a GIS strategy? Get an input from different departments, different companies, having an insight from the team in the field, as well as in the office… By having a way to collaborate ‘on the go’, you are minimizing your time rate put into a project while getting more out of it in terms of efficiency and accuracy. And who wouldn’t want that.

Bring in different layers of information, manipulate big data sets, share it within your organization and out so that you can easily understand what goes on in watersheds, what processes affect them and what decisions need to be made to preserve them. Because after all, no matter where we live, we live in a watershed.

About the Author

Barbara Horvatic graduated from Clark University with a Master of Science degree in GIS for Development and Environment. Currently she is working as a Marketing Manager at GIS Cloud, the next generation platform for apps that manage location information.  The aim of GIS Cloud is connecting GIS and Cloud into simple, fast and effective GIS solutions for collaboration.

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Guest articles from GIS professionals. Authorship information is listed at the bottom of the articles.

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