The Role of GIS Professionals in Issues of Equity and Social Justice

During the past year interest in using GIS to address issues related to Equity and Social Justice (ESJ) have been accelerating.

Recently Mark Salling from Cleveland State University, Nicole Franklin, King County Chief Equity Officer, and I co-authored an article for URISA’s The GIS Professional to initiate a discussion about the role of GIS professionals in issues related to Equity and Social Justice. Mark, Nicole, and I, along with Prof. Vero Velez (Western Washington University Associate Professor and founding director of the WWU Education and Social Justice Program) first came together during URISA’s 2018 GIS-Pro Conference in Palm Springs, where we participated in a first-ever GIS for ESJ session.

Enthusiasm by attendees at the 2018 GIS-Pro GIS for ESJ session led to efforts to form a URISA GIS for ESJ Special Interest Group (SIG). In parallel with the development of a GIS for ESJ SIG, Mark, Nicole, and I wanted to frame some of the issues related to ESJ and the imperative for GIS professionals to think about and act to apply GIS.

Our article, The Role of the GIS Professional in Issues of Equity and Social Justice,   outlines basic concepts of Equity and Social Justice, addressing Equity and Social Justice among GIS professionals, the GIS Code of Ethics, preparing to support Equity and Social Justice with GIS for public agencies, and exploring how GIS Professionals can work toward equity and social justice.


King County Actively Promotes Leading with ESJ

Want to learn more or get involved in issues related to GIS for ESJ? Here are some resources:

At the 2019 Washington GIS Conference in Tacoma, in May, Nicole and I will present a half-day workshop titled: Introduction to GIS for Equity and Social Justice.

The 2019 URISA GIS-Pro Conference in New Orleans in September will repeat the half-day GIS for ESJ workshop, and also include a GIS for ESJ track of sessions throughout the conference.

The two most recent meetings of the King County GIS User Group included feature presentations related to GIS for ESJ. The last meeting earlier this month included a presentation titled Ground-Truthing: GIS as a Community-Based and Anti-Racist Praxis, by Veronica Velez. Prof. Velez’ presentation is available for viewing as a video, or slide deck.

URISA members who are interested in participating in the GIS for ESJ SIG can contact Nicole Franklin or me for information about how to get involved.

Several years ago, I proposed a moral imperative for GIS….

The GIS profession uses geographic theory, spatial analysis, and geospatial technology to help society manage the Earth’s finite space, with its natural resources and communities, on a just and sustainable basis for the benefit of humanity.

How will you use GIS to support issues related to equity and social justice?

2 thoughts on “The Role of GIS Professionals in Issues of Equity and Social Justice

  1. Pingback: New GIS for Equity & Social Justice workshop at the Washington GIS Conference in Tacoma on May 21 | GIS & You

  2. Pingback: GIS for Equity & Social Justice – New Workshop in Seattle | GIS & You

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