One of our talented employees, Nathan Mosurinjohn, comments on the GIS niche he specializes in at the CSR:
“GIS is short for Geographic Information Systems, which is used to both analyze spatial data and to create maps. The GIS program we use at the CSR is fully customizable, so the possibilities for its use are endless. Some examples of ways this technology can be used include anything from site selection for business branches to hydrological studies to 3D fly-throughs of mountain ranges.
One of the main ways we are using GIS this summer is to coordinate our canvassing efforts for the Kent County Congregations Study. In addition to making an atlas of maps that the canvassers use for navigating, we have used GIS to estimate the time it will take to canvass each area and the amount of milage each area contains. We have also created a randomized set of points throughout the county to measure some of the general social and physical characteristics of the areas we are canvassing.
Once a team returns from a canvassing trip with their collected data, we use GIS to analyze what we have learned. With this technology we can chart where congregations are moving, where new congregations are forming, and where they are shutting down. We can also begin to see what the location of congregations means; for example, demographic changes in the city may be reflected in church movement and attendance. Movement of congregations can also affect how well services for young people are distributed among at-risk youth, a topic that our corresponding Youth Services Landscape Survey explores in more depth.
These are just a few of the ways that we are using GIS to aid in the implementation of our research endeavors, but as you can see, it is also a very transferable tool that can be used for a variety of purposes.”