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Social Aspects of GIS. the other side of the coin. Outline. Privacy Accessibility Ethics Hegemony. Is GIS. Value free ? Objective ? An innocuous tool ?. Privacy. Leaving an Electronic Trail…. Loyalty Cards Debit and Credit Cards Library Cards University registration

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social aspects of gis

Social Aspects of GIS

the other side of the coin

  • Privacy
  • Accessibility
  • Ethics
  • Hegemony
is gis
  • Value free ?
  • Objective ?
  • An innocuous tool ?
leaving an electronic trail
Leaving an Electronic Trail…
  • Loyalty Cards
  • Debit and Credit Cards
  • Library Cards
  • University registration
  • …or internet trail in internet space
leads to geodemographics
...leads to Geodemographics
  • Geodemographics = who is where
  • Characterizes areas or regions of people with similar lifestyles - assuming that people tend to live in close proximity with others like themselves.
  • Increase in technology = individual profiling
data profiling
Data profiling
  • Information from loyalty cards and other sign-up details
  • Combined with areal socio-economic data
  • = a profile of your “lifestyle” and an opportunity to directly market to you
gdis is used for
GDIS is used for
  • Direct marketing
  • Commercial site selection
  • Public Services
  • Political Redistricting
  • GIS in marketing is unregulated
  • What impact does it have on:

- your right to privacy

- the nature of that privacy

  • What if the information about you is incorrect? (i.e. credit history)
conspiracy theories
Conspiracy Theories
  • Mandatory GPS in your car
  • Mandatory GPS in you – or are we already there?
  • Linking data profiles to service providers
  • The death of privacy
Is GIS equitable?
  • Is GIS democratic?

“on the one hand, GIS has unprecedented power to disseminate access to usable information. On the other hand, it still supports a division which generates a technocratic elite.” (Clark 1988: 303)

gis accessibility is constrained by
GIS Accessibility is Constrained by
  • Data availability
  • Cost of technology and data
  • Computer literacy
  • English literacy
  • Physical accessibility
  • If information is power - spatial information is even more power
  • Unequal access to spatial technologies results in unequal access to this power and therefore social inequalities.
  • Attempts to overcome problems of accessibility – but limited
  • Potential of internet to minimize some factors
  • Is GIS unaccountable?
  • Is technology neutral?
  • Are the ethics of the application of the tool separate from its development?
  • Do we as GIS developers and users have some responsibility?

“When GISs are used there is a danger of some GIS-inspired decisions killing people, ruining businesses, and wasting public resources. The converse is also true, in that not using GIS technology may actually lead to poorer decision-making and this could also increase the risks of harm…The concern here is that because GIS is such a widely applicable technology and is being adopted widely, then attempts need to be made to render it intrinsically safe” (Openshaw 1993: 451)

gis lies purposefully or accidentally
GIS Lies (purposefully or accidentally)
  • Fudging data and manipulation is very easy to do in a GIS to get the required results
  • Re-aggregation and Reclassification of data can = very different results
  • MAUP (modifiable areal unit problem)
  • The division of space into zones is subjective – they are artificial
  • 2 aspects: scale and zone effect
  • Electoral redistricting and gerrymandering (officially sanctioned for the sake of minorities)
    • the political power of geography
gis imperialism
GIS Imperialism
  • GIS is a limited way of seeing the world
  • GIS = real world?
  • How does GIS impact research?
  • “GIS reifies western definitions of knowledge and meaning represented as technical data in a computer system” (p198 Pickles)
GIS “will fit uneasily or not at all into the organizations of people who have little or no experience with computers, whose experience of the landscape is not informed by maps, or who do not think in terms of the dominant paradigms of modern science”

(Hoeschele 2000: 295)

  • What are the consequences of the exclusion of certain types of knowledge and forms of reasoning that are not well represented within a GIS?
gis experts versus local experts
GIS Experts Versus Local Experts
  • It is very easy to apply GIS using RS data without having to physically see what is there e.g. land use classification
    • disregards local experts
    • assumes what is represented in the GIS is true
  • Does GIS provide more weight for planners making decisions than the local experts?
    • Quantitative versus qualitative
  • “Does society really want a Forest Service of GIS users at computer terminals rather than one of rangers on horseback?” (Goodchild 1995: 48)
gis control
GIS Control
  • Technology can be used to promote democracy and deny it.
  • GIS as basis of political and economic decisions
  • GIS is controlled by private industry – what influence does this have on the production and development of GIS?

“GIS is a set of tools, technologies, approaches and ideas that are vitally embedded in broader transformations of science, society and culture”

(Pickles 1995: 4)

Thus we cannot ignore the context of GIS in its application.