One of the interesting things I got to work on while working for one of the people who ran for mayor of Los Angeles was getting to work with GIS databases. Geospatial Databases are most commonly associated with
maps and finding directions. Think Google Maps. You store a database where shapes are associated to records.
It lets you define things like: precinct bondries, or streets, or individual houses. You can see an example below:
) Click either pic to embiggen (
The left image is an example of searching the database for a specific subset of people and displaying tracts where they are most populated (in blue). It's an example of an overview that someone might look at to get an idea of where to begin.
We can then refine the search (right image) and zoom in as far as we want in order to pick out specific houses (various colored dots) or streets (grey lines). Each house is further subdivided into groups of people based on other criteria. Many layers have been turned off to protect privacy, but you can get a feel for the benefits of such a system.
For those really interested in GIS stuff you can save the source .pdf on the left and open it with a "non-browser" Acrobat. This will let you turn off various labels, markers, and shapes using Acrobat's built in "Layers Tab" which isn't found in the browser's version of Acrobat. The right image is a Picture Only. Sensitive info in the .pdf has been made non-visible for the web.