Celebrating the importance of spatial data on GIS Day

In News by ambrisk

Celebrating the importance of
spatial data on GIS Day

In celebration of GIS Day, Ambiental hosted a programme of activities planned to showcase the use of GIS amongst our staff

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are increasingly used to help understand the world around us. GIS software allows us to analyse spatial data to unlock insight, observe patterns and study relationships. At Ambiental GIS forms the backbone to our work and provides a digital infrastructure which enables us to visualise and process data for delivering flood risk insight. This article coincides with International GIS Day and explains what exactly GIS is, how it is used within Ambiental, and gives a summary of our GIS Day activities.

GIS is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyse, manage, and present geographic data. A spatial data infrastructure, is a broad concept which relates to the hardware, software, data and users of the systems. A GIS integrates, stores, edits, analyses, shares, and displays geographic information. GIS applications are tools that allow users to create interactive queries, analyse spatial information, edit data in maps, and present their results.

Leveraging new technology to enable better flood predictions


A diagram showing a few examples of the many layers of spatial data which can be analysed with GIS.
Image source: California State University

GIS is now part of our everyday lives and access to mobile maps and navigation devices have brought the technology to the masses. GIS has many applications related to engineering, planning, management, transport/logistics, insurance, telecommunications, and business. GIS and location intelligence applications are the foundation of location-enabled services which rely on analysis and visualisation.

International GIS Day provides an international forum for users of GIS technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. The first GIS Day was started by ESRI and took place in 1999 as an initiative for people to learn about geography and the uses of GIS.

UK Floodmap4™ - River Wye

UK Floodmap4™ flood outline (in blue) of the River Wye, UK

At Ambiental we have a team of GIS experts with specialisms in data processing, application development, spatial analysis, database management, model building, as well as data visualisation and cartography. GIS software is used to process and store the many detailed input layers which go into creating our flood hazard maps and risk databases. Making a national flood map requires the creation of millions of GIS files, which are processed using automated GIS processing chains to enable us to achieve our work in a quick and consistent fashion. GIS software is used to check our data for accuracy and enables us to provide it in a range of formats to satisfy every client’s specific needs.

GIS is used by all departments of Ambiental including the consultancy team, sales and marketing, and the technical modelling team. Many of our staff have degrees in GIS or related disciplines. Senior Technical Analyst Katie Smith joined Ambiental in January 2016 and studied MSc GIS and Environmental Management at the University of Brighton. “I chose a career in GIS because it is a growing industry with huge potential thanks to recent technological advancements, greater availability of spatial data and increasing applications. GIS also offers many opportunities as it is widely used for decision-making in several industries. I enjoy working at Ambiental because I am involved in creating new and innovative products and services, which has enabled me to learn and develop my practical skills, and build upon my existing GIS knowledge. My favourite aspect of GIS is having the ability to analyse and process raw data to understand spatial patterns and relationships, and produce meaningful outputs. I also enjoy generating models and processes for the automation of spatial data workflows.”


In celebration of GIS Day, Ambiental hosted a programme of activities planned to showcase the use of GIS amongst our staff and provide training on how to unlock the full potential of the ESRI ArcGIS software. The event also looked at the many data suppliers inputting into our models as well as sharing excellent resources for discovering quality data. Related sessions also looked at advanced flood modelling, effective GIS project management, and highlight analytical tools, productivity tips and code algorithms for manipulating data tables. The day was helped along with tasty snacks and fun GIS goodies for staff to enjoy.

If you are interested in finding out more about Ambiental’s spatial data products, our online web mapping services and our bespoke front end mapping and dashboard applications then contact us here and sign up to our newsletter for all the latest news.

About the Author

Paul Drury is the GIS Data Manager at Ambiental. His role includes project management of production operations and reporting back to stakeholders. He also oversees the preparation, integration and quality assurance checking of data assets. Paul is an expert in GIS and data analysis with a developed understanding of the environmental data industry and underlying technical concepts. He has a BSc (hons) in Environmental Sciences from the University of Brighton.
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Paul Drury
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