GIS Data Management Best Practices

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A geographic information system (GIS) is a software program that collects, stores, verifies, and  presents information about locations on the surface of the Earth. GIS can enable people and  organizations to better understand geographical patterns and relationships by connecting seemingly  unconnected data. 

GIS connects data to a map and combines all descriptive data with location data (where objects are and what things are like there). This offers a basis for mapping and analysis applied in science and practically every economic sector.  

gis data
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GIS aids users in comprehending trends, connections, and spatial context. The advantages include  better management, decision-making, and enhanced communication and efficiency. 

Unacast helps organizations validate business decisions using geospatial data to form insights and best practices. Here are some considerations when embarking on a GIS project.

What do you need GIS data for? 

GIS is being used by hundreds of thousands of organizations worldwide to create maps that facilitate  communication, analysis, information sharing, and the resolution of challenging issues. This is  transforming how the world operates. 

Although geospatial data may be used for various purposes, your time will be best spent if you know  your stakeholders' unique needs. Sit down with them and discuss the kinds of insights they're  searching for in a non-technical way. This will help you decide what geographical data to gather and  use. 

As soon as you know the problem the organization is attempting to solve, you can prioritize the most  pressing issues rather than trying to cover multiple projects simultaneously.  

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Map the requirements for geospatial data use cases

When the stakeholder's needs are precise, you can identify the best way to represent and visualize  geospatial data. The way the business views data can impact the conclusions you draw from it. We've  provided a few typical examples below.  

Point Maps 

gis data management

One of the most straightforward representations of geographical data is a point map. In essence, you  set a point at any spot that correlates to the variable you're attempting to measure (such as a retail  space). 

It helps display trends in items' distribution and density, but it necessitates reliable location data  collection or geocoding to accurately pinpoint each place on the map. With large-scale maps, it might  be challenging to employ the point approach since specific points may overlap depending on the  zoom level. 

Flow Maps 

gis data flow map

A sort of thematic map called a "flow map" is used in cartography to demonstrate how items travel  between various places. These maps can depict things like the movement of products through space,  the number of animal species migrating in a certain way, traffic volume, and stream flow, among  other things. 

Heat Maps

gis data heat map

Heat mapping uses colors and shapes to visualize values and ranges across locations on a continuous  spectrum. It is an excellent way of pinpointing location hotspots and areas with a low volume  concentration.  

Plenty of other visualization types exist, including dot density, contour mapping, scaled cartograms  and flow maps. It is imperative to pick the right solution for your business challenge.  

The geospatial data strategy 

Standard data analysis tools exist to manage your geospatial strategy. However, for the main part,  these can only accommodate small-scale projects and do not have the scalability to grow with the  business. 

An efficient geospatial data strategy typically requires cloud storage, data warehousing, data lakes, task schedulers, and powerful processing. The technology infrastructure is resource intensive and requires dedicated teams to manage it or outsource to a third party like Unacast

Unacast focuses on a rigorous methodology to provide accuracy over volume, offering trustworthy  products and data insights whenever required. Solutions are highly scalable and provide data to  countries worldwide, helping organizations understand human mobility data both within and outside their own country.  

Organizations will often set up technical and business GIS committees. A technical user ensures that  all departments work together, avoiding the duplication of effort and the potential for time wasting.  The business committee helps align the technical solutions to the overall company objectives.  

You should also choose one or two workers to serve as supervisors for each data set. Again, having  specialists on specific datasets will make communicating their capabilities to stakeholders and others  inside the business simpler. 

It's best if your geographic dataset managers follow the same (or comparable) guidelines closely with  your business analysts. This will allow you to obtain and manage the assets, equipment, and insights  your teams require in a more timely and effective manner. This also aids in improving your  organization's data quality, resulting in better analysis and choices, by having more individuals report  on it to spot any inaccuracies. 

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Ensure your geospatial data serves a purpose

Once you've determined the most common ways geospatial data is utilized in your company, you can  begin adding the necessary metadata to your datasets. Classify them based on characteristics such as  which departments commonly use them, the format(s) in which their data is stored, how frequently  they are updated, the date they were last updated, and the geographical areas they cover. This can  assist in expediting your dataset management by allowing you to arrange and sort them based on  the most often utilized and up-to-date data. 

Using a classification method such as this, you can incrementally improve your GIS strategy to fit  different departmental objectives.  

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are pivotal to the success of your geospatial data management  plan. Analyze the data and review the results to ensure the strategy drives the business in the right  direction.  

An early example was from 1854, when John Snow used spatial data to identify the root cause of a cholera outbreak. The analysis led to a shutdown of the contaminated well, saving many lives, which was the project's objective. 

GIS use cases 

gis data strategy

Many industries can benefit from a GIS data strategy, including insurance, healthcare, retail, real  estate, and government. 


Insurers use geographic information system (GIS) technology with robust geospatial strategies to  precisely assess, detect, and map new possibilities and dangers. 


Spatial data and geographic information system (GIS) technologies may highlight coverage gaps in  the people we intend to serve, opportunities to optimize workflows, and the capacity to plan for and  protect against unanticipated occurrences. 


Retail is a location-based industry. Best-in-class retailers use mapping and location data to drive  meaningful business activities, analyze customer behavior, and visualize and manage assets such as  inventory and supply chain networks. 

Real Estate 

Real estate professionals rely on precise, accurate location intelligence for competitive insights about  the markets and places where they conduct business. 


National governments administer programs and assess policy effects using geographic information  system (GIS) technology. Using GIS, agency employees and executives may derive understanding,  operationalize solutions, convey findings, and engage stakeholders and the public. 


Book a meeting with Unacast to see how we can deliver innovative and dynamic demographic, location, and trade area data. Work with a team of data scientists to get the perfect view from one of the most accurate sources in the industry. If you are ready to level up your data game, speak to Unacast today


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