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GIS of the Future

Published Dec 22, 2019 – By Mohammad Hammoud

Predicting the future of an industry or a technology is no easy task, but when it comes to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) there are plenty of clues that can reveal where things are heading.

In recent years, GIS has evolved to offer solutions for almost any industry where its technology requires a “location” component. One of its most significant evolutions has been the transition from traditional standalone suites to web services; this change has prepared GIS to complement other technologies and enter new markets.

Over the last five years, our software-as-a-service offering, ArcGIS Online, has grown to over 6.6 million users.

Dirk Gorter, Director of Product Management, Esri

Below are some examples of how promising technologies are merging with GIS to offer new, innovative solutions that can solve critical business problems:

Augmented Reality

GIS Augmented Reality

The potential of Augmented Reality, or AR, continues to grow as more developers integrate GIS capabilities into their AR applications. GIS is being used to create a rich information reality which can be viewed directly from a user’s tablet or mobile device. These applications usually combine multiple technology tools – optical sensors, accelerometers, GPS, gyroscopes, solid state compasses – along with context-sensitive information, that is delivered as a web service. The user application might display location-based labels (such as icons or popup menus) that hover over or in front of objects you see through the mobile camera display.

Indoor Mapping

GIS Indoor Mapping

We are all familiar with the traditional use of GIS to make maps of cities and districts; the next step is for GIS to be used for indoor spaces, and we expect this to see rapid growth in the very near future. Increasingly, users need to navigate large complex buildings or campuses, and use 2D / 3D indoor maps to find their way around. In addition, the introduction of indoor mapping applications is improving the safety of workers and visitors, by creating awareness of the indoor spaces, and tracking people in real-time through Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS). For more information about K&A Indoor Specialty Accreditation with ESRI.

Visual Data Analytics

GIS Analytics

Visual Data analytics and GIS have delivered an interesting mix, enabling us to better understand the world around us, and revealing significant data patterns. Users see how elements of data can come together, providing new methods of understanding the reality. Software advances, particularly through the evolution of Visual Component Libraries, have enhanced the ability of developers to create new and differentiated GIS applications to better meet business goals of the organization. In addition, Big data visualization opens a new horizon in GIS visualization because it does not just strengthen the spatial context, but also it gives new meanings and insights to GIS maps and demonstrations.

While GIS might not be considered as special as it once was, as location information is coming to the forefront of mainstream IT, there is still a science in understanding how to make effective decisions and drive deeper understanding and meaning as to what the data can tell you.

Andy Dearing, CEO, Boundless

Internet of Things (IoT)

GIS Internet of Things

When talking about IoT, which is the interconnectivity among devices to transfer data over a network without human interaction, we notice that this system has in itself a very strong GIS nature. Every connected object that produces information or data is located in a structured system that has a location, an ID, and a sequence of data to be recorded and stored. This relationship has led to the development of Geo IoT, which combines the IoT with Geography. Geo IoT is the combination of smart geolocation technologies together with breakthrough IoT wireless technologies such as Low-Power Wide Area Networks. Other Technologies such as cellular networks, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS can also be used to complement the IoT platforms and provide cost and energy savings for multiple industries. Depending on the required applications, they are combined smartly using the GIS platform with to ensure location accuracy and availability.

As we can see from the various examples above, the involvement of GIS in several promising technologies suggests we can be very optimistic about its future development. GIS is poised for even wider scale adoption than we have already seen, as more organizations learn how much business value can come from the geospatial data. As trends like AR, Indoor Mapping, Data Analytics, and IoT continue to take over our world, we can expect geographic information science and technology not only to evolve, but also to help change the way organizations utilize such technologies.

Published under GIS

Mohammad Hammoud

Product and Account Manager

Mohammad Hammoud Photo