Looking at the future of GIS

In ForestTECH, Issue12 by FIEA

To gain real insight into today’s geospatial business landscape, ‘GIM International’ decided to ask some of the sector’s most influential companies for their opinions. This series of Q&As captures the current state of the industry from various perspectives, such as which technological and societal developments will have the most impact on the geomatics market, which market segments are the most promising and which areas offer the most substantial growth. The questions also explore the trend towards open data and open-source software. Here, Clint Brown from Esri shares his views.

Which technological developments will affect your product/service portfolio the most in the coming years?

Cloud computing is enabling an instrumented world where computing can be harnessed to analyse and respond to virtually any issue. We envision that GIS will be recognised as a key enabling information technology for most big IT initiatives in the coming years – essentially integrating location intelligence into large to massive enterprise and cloud-based systems and hybrid systems. GIS provides a comprehensive approach for working with virtually all information sources.

Further, the data in each individual organisational GIS is being brought together virtually to create a comprehensive GIS of the world in the cloud. Each of us are creating and maintaining our own layers, and because all GIS layers register onto the Earth, we are also contributing to and assembling a larger societal GIS for our planet – our individual GIS systems of record are being integrated, extended and deployed as systems for insight as well as communal systems for engagement.

Which societal developments will influence your share of the geomatics market the most in the coming years? How and why?

GIS has evolved into an essential information technology and will be at the centre of major advances in computing. Geospatial systems and expertise will be essential for our planet’s future. In the past decade, GIS has been expanding far beyond the professional GIS community. With the advent of apps, people everywhere began to use online maps – the foundation for shared GIS. Almost overnight, everyone began to recognise the power of GIS as an enabling information platform for improved understanding, decision-making, efficiency, communication and collaboration.

GIS provides a geospatial framework to integrate and interpret results. Over the past few decades, the mass adoption of the internet has led to a glut of information that we have come to know as big data. GIS provides a geographic context to make sense of it all – while also providing the capability and the context to analyse that data in real time.

Which market segments are the most promising for your products/services?

The most interesting and exciting growth is in initiative-oriented and community-based systems. Communities are being formed around geographic locations as well as around common initiatives such as education, health care, environmental stewardship, smart cities, etc. Meanwhile, GIS is being applied in virtually every field of human endeavour, from helping businesses identify new customers to enabling our responses to natural disasters. The reach and influence of GIS is also expanding globally.

GIS brings all digital content together and enables us to make interpretations to more deeply understand and to comprehend what is happening in a spatial context. For example, GIS maps help us to integrate IoT data feeds that will lead to deeper interpretation and understanding. GIS maps provide a framework for communication and understanding. Story maps have become a major revolution for GIS practitioners engaging with their communities. Over 400,000 story maps were shared publicly in 2017 across virtually every discipline, delivering critical messages and results in a very easy-to-understand way.

View the full story at gim-international.com.

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