(Excerpted from GAO-16-313)…and analyze The real power of GIS lies in its ability to compare many types of geographic data to examine how they relate to each other. For example, we looked at two home loan guarantee programs administered by the Rural Housing Service and the Federal Housing Administration. The GIS maps we made showed us that the way the Rural Housing Service defines “rural” areas for the purposes of loan eligibility is much broader than the way that other agencies define “rural” areas. With 97% of U.S. land area (and 37% of the population) qualifying as “rural” for Rural Housing Service loans, it is easy to see on the maps how that program might overlap significantly with the Federal Housing Administration program, which doesn’t have any geographic limits.
(Excerpted from GAO-16-801)Another example is from a recent report on Amtrak. To understand the competition Amtrak faces from other modes of travel in rural areas, we used GIS to estimate the number of other transportation options (i.e., bus or air travel) within a 30-minute driving radius of each Amtrak station on its long-distance routes. We found that about 70% of rural Amtrak stations are located within a reasonable driving time of one or more alternative transportation options. Mapping this information can show where Amtrak faces competition on its network of routes, and where to conduct more analysis of its scheduling and operations.
You can see this in our interactive graphic of one of Amtrak’s long-distance routes. It shows which Amtrak stations offer limited, late-night arrival and departure times and if they are close to other travel options, such as intercity buses. To use the interactive features of the graphic, download the report PDF, go to p.65, and roll your mouse over stations on the map.
(Excerpted from GAO-16-67)To explore these and other reports, please visit our website at www.gao.gov.