Comments About Those Chosen as the Most Influential Geospatial Person

By Joe Francica

These are additional comments that were posted regarding influential people.

Jack Dangermond and ESRI have been and remain the prime movers in the GIS software market. The solutions offered by ESRI are almost universally applied across the globe. I live in Mexico, and they are know by ESRI products and open source movement. i think that Dangermond is a visioner (sic) in geospatial technology, although Google maps y Google earth were a excellent product and it massed geospatial technology, before it was alot of works.

[Jack] Dangermond: The choice is obvious. The man has been a leader (and often THE leader) of the geospatial industry for decades. His vision and implementation have developed the tools and practices that we've all followed, directly or indirectly.

Dangermond, like him or not -- like his company and his products or hate them -- has cornered much of the market for professional GIS software. That makes him a big player. Warmerdam's work is seminally important for a future optimally designed for users, and not bullied by the largest vendors. DiBiase's program is one of the academic models for the nation, making him one of the key players in shaping a future for the GIS community.

Anything we "innovate" is done so while standing on his shoulders. Still to this day, Jack continues to be a true-believer in how geospatial technologies help people improve the world, its resources, and the people who live upon it. And while he is disguised as a captain of industry, underneath he is an idealist who lives out his ideals every day.

John Palatiello is the Exec. Director of the largest and most influential organization representing the geospatial professionals. In this capacity he has the ability to frame the profession in terms of licensing or certification, both of which will be significant issues in the very near future.

The three fellows from Google for what they have done to enlighten the world on the use of geospatial data in our everyday lives.

Jack - There is no need for further discussion...ESRI is GIS & GIS is ESRI until other players enter the market. James - SpatiallyAdjusted is probably one of the most informative and insightful blogs out there...there is no reason to believe that will change. Safe Software (FME) has truly brought Interop to the GIS world...whatever happens to the industry, Safe will play a significant role.

James [Fee] is the man when it comes to new and emerging technologies, Jack [Dangermond] is, well, Jack, and Learon [Dalby] has put Arkansas on the map, literally, when it comes to GIS.

Jack Dangermond has done more to promote GIS as an effective and efficient technology for the public good than anyone else I can think of.

ESRI and Google will continue to be the most influential forces in GIS over the next 5 years with Open Source tools gaining ground. The Google group, Dangermond and Warmerdam will be heard from no matter what new developments may take place.

Google has made GIS a commodity.

James fee is sending the message out to the world. It is more important than getting things discovered and stored in a corner of the world. He has influenced his readers with the honest, up-to-date and the most important contents in the geospatial industry.

Jack Dangermond will remain influential as the the ESRI will be leading at least for another 5-10 years. However, after a decade, new open sources and cheaper and better versions of similar products will hit the market. There is nothing that can compare the research and developments that ESRI is doing at the movement, but it is limiting its horizon because of its price (very expensive for ordinary users). Jack Dangermond will remain one of the most influential leaders for decades if ESRI is taken to an affordable directions with the upkeep of recent development. And yes, at some point, integration of Google products instead of Microsoft (current initiative) with ESRI might become vital.

Number 1 - Frank Warmerdam. GDAL & OGR enable so many pieces of software, and getting the job done so much easier. Outstanding leadership at OSGEO, as well as valuable contributions to so many other non-FOSS software, under the hood. Number 2 - Steve Coast. Freedom from the tyranny of GDT/TeleAtlas/Navteq - finally! Enabling the entire world to take back ownership of one of the most important foundation spatial datasets there is. Number 3 - James Fee. Planet Geospatial is one of the prime hubs of the geo-social networking world. James makes us think, brings us all kinds of news about stuff we'd otherwise not have time to find, and provides such a challenging and useful forum for discussion, and a lot of fun too.

Google - is there any question? Google maps might be old news, but Google is not standing still. They've offered KML into the OGC process, further establishing KML as *the* open map publishing format. They are continually tweaking Google Maps and Google Earth, and overall are pretty much the company everyone looks towards in terms of Web 2.0 mapping. There are some challenges associated with this dominance that need to be faced by the rest of the industry and by users of Google products, but the influence far outweighs anything else out there. Steve Coast deserves recognition for how far OSM has come. His relentless pursuit of a single goal has provided the focus needed to achieve critical mass in terms of sheer data availability. OSM is to geodata suppliers what Wikipedia is to the encyclopedia industry. It's a force that is not to be trifled with. Frank Warmerdam's personal achievements as an open source geospatial coder and organizer are well-known and highly respected. His code probably exists in more places than any other open source geo code. There is no reason to expect his influence to wane. At the same time, Frank can be considered a representative of the entire FOSS geo "industry" which, like OSM on the data side, is going to continue to challenge the proprietary software industry. Google, OSM, and FOSS Geo (not just OSGeo) represent disruptive forces that are shaking up the geo industry in an incredibly positive way. Note that this has been happening for many years, but it's not old news, and the effects will be long lasting.

Three? Are you kidding? I need five at least. Our industry is extremely broad with multiple change vectors. I selected Adrian Holovaty because open data and especially open government data is going to radically change how geographic information is leveraged. Adrian may not actually be the driver of this change, but has definitely shown the value of this information in a geospatial context. If Vivek Kundra (or Barack Obama) had been on the list, he would have taken this position. I selected Paul Bissett because WeoGeo is the first company to tackle monetized Geo search with any kind of true spatial intelligence. There is potential for Google to surpass their efforts through extension of the Maps Data API into Google Apps, and by finding an intelligent way of dealing with sparse/clustered data, but WeoGeo will have led the way regardless. I selected Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Ed Parsons because I believe that Google still has a lot of innovating to do. The emergence of Google Wave as a collaborative mapping environment has a huge upside, but there is also a lot of room for improvement in their core spatial search. Applying the power of context and authority (implied metadata) to spatial information has not yet been done and has the potential to transform spatial search in the same way that Google transformed web search ten years ago. If I had been allowed to chose five influencers, my first bonus selection would have been Frank Warmerdam. Not just as himself, nor as the visible presence of OSGeo in North America, but as the poster child for open source software, whether OSGeo-associated or not. Open source software will be a critical component of any cloud-based computing initiative, even if it's just in the background of user-friendly services like WeoGeo or CloudMade. My second "bonus" selection would have been Steve Coast. Not especially because I think that OSM will bring a lot of innovation, but because like EveryBlock it has been a pathfinder in showing how powerful crowdsourcing/VGI can be for common data sets. You may notice that there are no traditional Geo names in my top three. I believe that geospatial information is at last finding its place in the information landscape. While traditional entities such as ESRI, Safe Software, and OGC certainly have a role to play in this brave new world, it's a supporting role. The true value and innovation will come from players who realize that geospatial is special, but only in that it adds a dimension to non-spatial information which allows for deeper insight and more effective visualization.

An interesting list and mix of others to choose from, majority of which are relatively unknown to the general geospatial community. Several are clear technology innovators.

The notion that "the people" are the true owners of information about them and their planet is spreading fast.

Published Friday, July 24th, 2009

Written by Joe Francica

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