GIS and Geospatial Technology in the Information Age - A New Perspective

May 9, 2005

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Today new opportunities are presenting themselves to users of technology, and best practices are evolving that will allow us to better manage our world in many respects.This includes humans and our well being, the resources, institutions and governing structures needed for the world's systems (both natural and man made) to function, our businesses and our ability to manage, protect, communicate and interact.These opportunities are presented through the extraordinary advancements that are being made in technology development and the rapid availability of these advancements.

One interesting aspect of recent technology advancements is the ability and power that interoperability (simply put - the capacity of different and diverse systems, data, platforms, processes and services to efficiently and effectively work together) brings forth.This is especially true when you consider the trends occurring today revolving around Enterprise Information Systems.This encompasses the convergence of GIS/geospatial technologies and services with the broader Information and Communications Technology (ICT) landscape.

Geospatial technologies (a somewhat broad category of technologies based on the foundation infrastructure provided by modern GISs) are a pivotal and fundamental part of this convergence, and are made available to a great extent through interoperability and accompanying standards.One of the leading organizations that is diligently promoting and supporting the advancement of open standards and specifications for the Geospatial industry is the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).OGC is continuing these efforts as the market expands into greater domains associated with ICT.OGC is also fostering cooperative efforts with other leading organizations involved in open standards and interoperability, such as ISO, W3C and OASIS.

Today's technology based business drivers require a new paradigm and enhanced infrastructure for managing and leveraging the ever increasing amounts of data with spatial/location based references and components. Almost every type of information that is used or cross referenced in the ICT 'world' today can have some type of location or spatial context associated with it.There are a broad spectrum of applications, systems and technologies that are involved in this and include; CRM, ERP, HR, CIS, DBMS, RFID, Portals, web services, and many, many others.It is through the efficient use of GIS/geospatial technologies that we are able to understand and leverage the value of spatial/location based information and processes in the broader context of ICT and enterprise information systems.

As we move toward greater enterprise deployments based on the widespread use of ICT systems and services, the underlying integration of GIS/geospatial technologies and services is becoming more commonplace.This is made possible through a number of key factors, such as the following.
  • Rapid development and deployments of open, standards based service oriented architectures
  • More uptake and implementation of web service tiers with business logic and workflow
  • Increased integration with server based distributed network architectures in federated communities
  • Increased deployment of mobile devices, communications and services
  • Smarter and richer client tools (especially in the GIS world)
  • More robust and flexible secure information exchange solutions
An important element of enterprise systems involves the myriad of system components that are, to varying degrees, being integrated through best of breed interoperability capabilities where demands for efficiency and performance are critical.More importantly, as true enterprise systems are being deployed, more and more organizations are including GIS/geospatial technologies as part of these enterprise systems.They serve as a 'unifying' element through their capacity to manage and utilize geospatial content, capabilities and services in enterprise environments.

The importance that GIS/geospatial technologies serve in building out and successfully growing enterprise information solutions for organizations will take two forms.
  1. Enterprise-wide GIS will grow and expand, and more and more core GIS functions, services and solutions are deployed throughout all parts of organizations.
  2. Non-geocentric enterprise-wide information system deployments are spatially enabled via GIS/geospatial technologies.
Both of these will occur with ever increasing frequency in both small and large organizations and both will, when implemented correctly, provide tremendous benefits.

In the non-geocentric type of enterprise, the 'heavy hitters' of the industry, powered by smart new advancements and leveraged by creative new business partnerships, are now joining the game and are cooperating with the leading GIS/geospatial vendors.This includes industry leaders such as IBM, Microsoft, SAS, Information Builders, SAP and others.

As the worldwide ICT market expands, you can be sure that GIS/geospatial technologies will be an important and increasingly fundamental component of this growth.

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