It’s Time for Individuals to Have the Power of GIS


I’ve never met anyone who goes home at night saying, “I can’t wait to pick-up GIS” (myself being the exception of course). I have struggled to help others understand the value of what a Geographic Information System (GIS) can do for them, because it’s not relatable. When I hear other people describe GIS, it’s usually simplified to “mapping.” While I agree that there is a strong map-based component, GIS is much more than that. A great deal of work goes into creating a meaningful “map” - analysis, computing, design, intersection and weighting. Collectively these actions describe the ability to understand and analyze spatial data, which is why GIS should mean something to you, and why location science is a growing billion-dollar industry. A GIS can turn data into something visual, meaningful and almost tangible, creating results tailored to you and your specific needs. This is why we’ve created (To), and why (To) aims to be the most powerful visual problem solving tool for individuals ever designed.

Industry pioneer, Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) has led visual problem solving and the geospatial technology industry for years. ESRI president, Jack Dangermond is one of the most transformative individuals of the modern era. His influence has encouraged the adoption of GIS within organizations as a mainstream tool for decision-making, driving economic and financial impacts that have laid the foundation for the future of our economy and country. Walgreens uses GIS to locate stores, Fedex uses GIS to shape their delivery routes and business model, Starbucks uses GIS to be smart about their customers, and the federal government uses GIS to monitor and counter environmental concerns that would otherwise be impossible to understand. These organizations rely on GIS to inform decision-making at every scale, because through spatial data, visualization, and analysis they can be better. It’s time for individuals to reap the same rewards.

So what does an individualized GIS look like? (To) started with that exact question, and created a product that focuses on location and context of places as a means for facilitating decision-making and driving value for every-day decisions. There’s no decision over the course of your life (particularly milestones like going to college, starting a career or retirement) that don't involve ‘where.’ Historically, however, we have let ‘where’ fall second to a career or job choice. It’s not because we don’t understand the value of location in our lives, rather that we don’t have a tool at our disposal to help us to weigh 'where' trade-offs. 

Take Amee for example, a seasoned nurse considering a career as a physician. She needs the ability to find the best places for medical school, residency, fellowship and eventually practice, for herself and her spouse. Communities where she can run, pursue her interest in becoming a specialized pediatrician, where she can work while paying back her student loans, and be at least in the same time zone as other family members. How does she figure all of these things out without scouring multiple websites all while ensuring she aligns the right opportunities with the right possibilities? It's next to impossible to do this well without a GIS. This is why so many students can't see a way out of their debt, why others feel burnt-out before they even reach practice, and why so many choose to leave a position after only a short period of time. Where was never considered in a meaningful way. With (To), we have created the ability for Amee to make every transition in her medical career with confidence, understanding that as she grows in her career and her life, her priorities will too. She can quickly connect to the best opportunities, and find a community – a neighborhood – where both she and her spouse will be happy. 

Amee’s decisions are no different than anyone pursuing a career they are interested in, or those contemplating retirement with family and finances to consider. The average person moves 11 times over the course of their life (and the number is growing). In 2015, 40 million people in the United States made a move- 7.6 million to a different state. 50% of the US population considers relocation as THE solution to an immediate hardship or accomplishment – your child as she stares proudly at her graduation gown, your spouse as he considers upward mobility in his career, your father as he contemplates more time with grandchildren and part-time work during retirement, and even yourself as you face your 'new' life as a working mother. Major transitions are part of life. Prepared for them or not, each come with location factors to be considered that will ultimately determine our success and happiness. (To) is the solution for confronting your 'where' questions and curiosity; your partner in possibility dreaming that you never knew existed.


Sarah Linden

myPlace-Seed, LLC, 901 N Washington St, Suite 208, Alexandria, VA 22314

Where matters, because place can make you better!