GIS Technology Used at the Smithsonian

GIS Technology Used at the Smithsonian

The Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum, relies on GIS technology to improve its infrastructure and maintain its grounds.

In case you’re mulling an online GIS degree, factor this in: The Smithsonian consists of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. Founded in 1846, it is the country’s most-important historical archive and is the world’s greatest collection of history. According to Dan Cole, GIS Coordinator, Smithsonian Institution, GIS is paramount to the Smithsonian’s efforts.

Cole wrote in the paper “GIS at the Smithsonian Institution” that GIS may be used for planning and designing floor space, building electronic atlases that exhibit biodiversity, distribution, or cultural, ecological and geological changes. In addition, the Smithsonian’s Collections Division uses GIS to spatially catalogue when and where items were collected in addition to where they are stored now, he wrote.

GIS is also used as a spatial demographic tool for marketing to reach potentially new members.

But, the most-exciting use of GIS can be found within the world’s jungles and forests.

Asian Elephants

There are only 30,000 Asian Elephants left in the world. To help track them, GPS collars are placed on these endangered animals in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The 30-pound GPS device transmits to a satellite that collects GPS position every four hours. The data transmitted even allowed researchers to study how elephants reacted to the Dec. 26, 2004, Asian tsunami.

Eld’s Deer

Eld’s Deer have been known to elude man. Standing an average of 65-inches tall, the species was not discovered by Westerners until 1839. Today, Smithsonian researchers are trying to learn more about this endangered species using GIS technology to determine its habitat loss. Through radio-tracking and survey techniques, scientists observed that Eld’s deer prefers dry dipterocarp forest.  They are analyzing satellite images from different dates and different spatial scales to determine the current extent of dry dipterocarp forest. According to the Smithsonian, this analysis will provide insight into where unknown populations of Eld’s deer may be found, as well as where future reintroduction efforts may be successful.

Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin

Found in Brazil, the Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin faces extinction. But, researchers are using GIS to help find habitat corridors connecting larger forests where they live now to maximize genetic diversity and long-term survival.

Mongolian Gazelle

There are thought to be between 35,000 and 80,000 Mongolian Gazelles. Scientists are using GIS to track the species herd movements. In fact, you can follow their movements on this Mongolian Gazelle Migration map.

If you are somebody who is passionate about helping the environment or animals, an online GIS degree might just help you accomplish your goals. Check out American Sentinel University’s GIS degree programs.