GIS, GPS, and remote sensing

Journal article by Uwe Deichmann, Stanley Wood

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The role of information and communication technology (ICT) in accelerating development is drawing increasing attention. ICT promises to help isolated and disenfranchised communities transform themselves into development participants who are better informed and integrated. However, this promise is tempered by concerns that the control and application of ICT could reinforce—or simply reconfigure—existing forms of inequity and marginalization and might be unsustainable in more remote rural areas. Information and Communication Technology Tools Low-income rural residents have adopted some information technologies with considerable success. The best known is the mobile phone, which, for example, helps reduce the information gap between farmers and traders. Mobile phones are inexpensive, require no special training, and serve social functions beyond their use in rural trade. They are also easily shared or rented out, providing non-farm income opportunities for enterprising rural households. Another group of more specialized ICT tools helps manage and interpret data about an area's resources and infrastructure, such as digital maps or images of a village, watershed, or entire country. Researchers, planners, and other technical specialists are making greater and greater use of this information. The tools include systems to store, manage, and analyze geographically referenced data (geographic information systems, or GIS); devices that measure geographic location (global positioning system, or GPS, receivers); and airborne data collection systems that provide periodic land use, land cover, and other thematic information (aerial photos and satellite remote sensing).