Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Futures of GIS
Chapter 15
Futures of GIS
As the computerized collection, processing, and embedding of geographic
and cartographic representations increases, GI will become an increasingly
integral part of even more activities. The last three decades have seen tre-
mendous changes in geographic information systems (GIS), the Global Posi-
tioning System (GPS), remote sensing technologies, and other information
technologies. The next three decades will certainly witness similar magni-
tudes of changes. Arguably, GIS already plays the central role as the integrat-
ing platform for various technologies and organizations. GI will become as
common as maps are today and have been for the last 100 years. Plate 14, an
example of an interactive GI application with Google Earth, shows one of
many exciting developments.
What the future means specifically for the technologies for use of, and
access to GI is more difficult to say. It is almost certain that GI will become a
commodity and that it will be produced, sold, and exchanged like other
information commodities—information about businesses, for example. Costs
and inequitable access to commercial GI may promote more government
support for free or low-cost GI access, kick-starting a new vibrant market that
develops applications and supports local democratic decision making. The
ubiquity of GI also means increased surveillance by governments and private
groups. For many, such unregulated surveillance is a considerable problem
for civil liberties; for others, it is a necessary means to assure these liberties.
A yet undecided key question in many places is how governments will allow
access to their geographic information. The increasing prevalence of GI
brings both opportunities and challenges.
To begin, we should note that GI is still underfunded. U.S. federal infor-
mation technology spending is expected to be about $63.3 billion in 2007. In
the same period, the 50 U.S. states are expected to spend $23.7 billion on
information technologies. Local information technology spending in the
United States in 2007 is expected to be somewhat higher: $27.2 billion. The
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