GIS and Today’s Technology: A Beneficial Duo

Note: This is the last post by our Spring intern Aleigha. A big thanks to Aleigha and good luck after graduation.

The significance of location services, prominence of maps, and apps that allow us to familiarize ourselves with geographic locations is on a steady rise. Where we used to depend on paper, or some form of tangible maps or listed directions, technology has drastically increased the demand to have those exact same directions or maps accessible to mobile phones, and other electronic devices such as tablets, and portable GPS gadgets. Location based technologies are always evolving. A perfect example of this would be Mapquest, which was extremely popular at one time but is now a thing of the past. In its place, LBS like Google Maps for Android, Foursquare, and Geoloqi have cropped up – for now.

Geographic Information Systems, otherwise known as GIS, can be described as the computer systems that allow information from maps, objects and routes, and other related subjects such as cartograms, charts, and 3D diagrams to be stored and accessed on a regular basis. The technology used in today’s mapping processes has made the ease of access more readily available and demanding. The Internet and other technological advances had a dramatic impact of all GIS related activities, and also on those who use the product. Termed Web 2.0 in 2005, the second stage of Internet development was characterized by the growth of dynamic user-generated content. Undoubtedly, it is becoming more common for EVERYONE to do or desire to do EVERYTHING electronically, not just GIS professionals.

Two popular examples of map server technology include: Google Earth and ArcGISonline., which have access to extensive aerial views of locations. Someone unfamiliar with GIS technology, or even mapping, might be alarmed or even frightened when they search for their address and a photo of their home appears for the whole world to see.

Web mapping targets two basic issues: map generation and map transmission. The delivery of static maps portrayed in raster formats such as, JPEG, GIF, and PNG is the primary reason for the evolvement of web based applications. Map generation has two basic approaches, which include precise geometric information and the utilization of a multiresolution database. The article, “Web Based GIS” by Palva and Baptista further explains all processes and aspects of the map generation and transmission.

GIS maps display and manage a vast array of spatially referenced data, and maps can be provided over the web to serve for multiple purposes, whether it be educational, personal, or professional purposes. The web has served as a driving force for web based mapping applications and services. The doors that technology has opened for the geographic world has already proved that dramatic changes are happening, and those changes are being noticed. Such a duo is improving the value of GIS, and will continue to do so.


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