GIS for the Third World
There's a good article today on the Science and Discovery Network's website about how GIS is helping developing countries deal with disease and disasters.
One focus is how Third World countries are using GIS to combat infectious diseases. An example is the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where health officials at the National Informatics Centre are using GIS to track outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis.
GIS is also being used in Thailand, to deal with the bird flu epidemic that still plagues much of Asia. The Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok has started a project to map and track fatal strains of the virus, identifying risk zones and the trajectory of any potential outbreak.
GIS is also increasingly used for disaster management and planning. Emergency workers can use GIS to prepare maps of disaster zones and develop plans. Indonesia is using GIS to identify areas with strong erosion in the Bandung Basin of West Java to combat landslides.
The biggest hindrance to using GIS to solve more of the Third World's problems? A lack of resources, a lack of good software, and a lack of skilled GIS specialists. There is also a reluctance among many governments to make GIS information publicly available due to security concerns.