In this new world, geospatial data generates more value than it did before, and it is much more a commodity than it was before.It is also produced and managed in more ways - both by machines and by people.There is more of it and there is a bigger market for it.Its heterogeneity and uniqueness is no longer a barrier to widespread use.If an organization cares to describe a dataset in metadata, put it online and register the metadata in catalogs, that data can be quickly discovered and known in all its details by any population the organization seeks to serve.This is good news for people who use geospatial technologies, but it is even better news for those who don't.It is good news for any person within reach of the internet who faces a task that might be performed more efficiently if that person knew more about the "where" of particular people, places or things.
This introduces an interesting challenge for people who engineer business processes and enterprise information systems.It's not so much a technical challenge, because technology providers knowledgeable about the relevant standards and commercial offerings can provide the necessary technical solutions.The challenge is a challenge of imagination: How can we best make use of this remarkable development? What kinds of spatial information would be useful to each person, each office, each employee, each client in everything they do? How can our organization better accomplish its core mission though "spatial enablement" of business processes and of the information systems that support those processes?
These are questions that information system architects are learning to ask when they examine how to make use of location information that is readily collected but not broadly used in their organizations. When a business's new customer first provides a street address or zip code, there is probably some way in which that business can immediately begin using that bit of spatial data to tailor a response in serving that customer.When a customer service representative, a salesman, a marketing manager, a field service technician, a policeman, or an assessor describes their work to a spatially savvy work analyst, that analyst will find opportunities to say, "Aha! If you had this or that bit of spatial information, you could be more efficient or effective." In the new world of location enabled enterprise systems and web services, those bits of spatial information are easy to provide.
The benefits of spatial awareness are significant, and the cost of delivering spatial information is decreasing as users realize significant cost savings from leveraging their existing IT infrastructure to deploy a new class of enterprise geospatial applications and web services.The old style GIS with its tightly bound database, processing engine and display engine still has great value, but may not be as cost effective for enterprise spatial applications that need to access spatial information assets across various departments and from various tools and applications.It also doesn't fit into service oriented architectures unless the GIS is wrapped with open interfaces.
In the new world, special
purpose systems like GIS are giving way to flexible spatial platforms.A lot of
"ordinary" data has "spatialness," and spatial data can
deliver significant value to ordinary business applications.