A major challenge facing scientists today is how to actively engage with communities experiencing environmental changes due to extreme weather. Successful engagement must occur in a way that fits with local culture and that is appropriate for a particular geography and population. For instance, in many rural places communication happens through the radio. In more urban communities such communication may best occur through cellphones. Different forms of communication and engagement occur in various places. The most effective types of communication and engagement are based on careful consideration of racial, ethnic, political and economic characteristics that build a strategy based on analysis and understanding of such features and classes of information. One means to develop such an understanding is through use of geospatial analysis approaches to enable the layers of various feature-type information about communities to be brought together in one place. This coupled with the ground-truthing of the data and information, will help to create place-based communication strategies that fit the local population and their communication abilities, patterns and local technology. We illustrate how geospatial approaches to gather and analyze data can help to better understand people in the context of place. Using GIS helps to incorporate knowledge, data and perspectives of social scientists and local communities into the weather/science planning process so that more appropriate communication and engagement strategies can be developed.