Imagine if every time you asked for a location – New York City, the Zoo, your nearest grocery store – you were given a string of numbers in the form of latitude and longitude coordinates. How would you know where to go?
Thanks to GIS, or geographic information systems, we can find most locations on digital maps. GIS is a broad system of tools that allow complex information to be analyzed, then visualized, on a map. Basically, GIS connects data with geography.
All those cool maps that show Wendy’s restaurant locations, global wind patterns, and NFL fandoms by county use GIS to turn thousands of data sheets to informational, condense maps. GIS is used in everything from business decisions to natural resource extraction to evacuation planning. It is invaluable in the oil and natural gas industry, too.
How It Works
GIS works by storing geographic information in layers. These can be natural features like elevation or waterways, urban systems like transportation or addresses, data like income or education level, or imagery like satellite photos. Layering data shows how one category relates to another.
Information put into GIS, through a process known as data capture, is stored in two ways: raster and vector. Rasters store data in tiny cells, and the maps often look pixelated because of its grid base. Vectors store information in points and lines, giving them a smooth look great for things like roads, railways, and borders. Creating maps digitally allows more freedom for updating than manually created paper maps.
All of this complex information is important in industries and decision making across the globe. Business professionals and marketers might use GIS to choose new store location or learn about local demographics. They can show to where natural features and manmade features overlap, like residential areas that are likely to flood. GIS is a valuable tool for showing how the physical landscape or population density changes over time.
GIS at Cabot
At Cabot, GIS is vital for tracking, monitoring, and analyzing natural gas assets and production. The technology helps to show where resources may be located, as well as choose prime locations for extraction. When choosing a new location for a well, numerous factors like utilities, landowner property lines, local infrastructure, and more and be layered and reveal the best locations for new well pads.
Once a location is chosen, GIS can be used to assist in designing the well pad and ensuring the Department of Environmental Protection regulations are met. GIS can also assist in creating emergency preparedness plans. GIS, at its core, is collaborative. It pulls information from numerous sources and layers them to reveal relationships between small details.
For Cabot, GIS provides a collaborative platform that can connect data from numerous departments combine it all in a centralized location. The platform is vital to planning resource extraction and ensures no detail is overlooked. With GIS, even seemingly unrelated data can form meaningful and visual relationships that help us to understand our world.