Pathways: A Journal of Humanistic and Social Inquiry


Every year natural and man-made disasters cause mass population displacement, loss of lives, and human suffering. On a given disaster several international or non-profit organizations will respond depending on the region in need as well as media and donor attention Olsen, Gorm Rye, et al (2003). Because of the extreme unique difficulties found in each disaster zone such as infrastructural damages, uncertain demand and supply, geographical challenges and time pressures, it is imperative that humanitarian organizations have readily available and applicable response methodologies as well as information technologies to increase their relief impact. In regards to the latter Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has proven to be an indispensable tool in the humanitarian sector.

However, despite there being great recognition in regards to the importance of geospatial information in relief operations there is still a knowledge gap in regards to all the different tasks and uses of GIS in the humanitarian sector. For example, Espindola et al (2016) lament that despite the recent increase in literature which utilizes GIS for humanitarian logistics most of the research is limited to net-work analysis and also that GIS’s full potential for disaster relief has not been fully tapped. This meta-analysis, for the first time, seeks to address such gap of knowledge by achieving two main goals: (1) To better understand the various ways in which Geographic Information System (GIS) can be applied in humanitarian settings by revealing how the academic community is utilizing such technology in their research, and (2) to point out strengths and areas that have been overlooked as well as help guide future research in this field.