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GIS in the Next Millennium

By Jack Dangermond, President, Esri

Jack DangermondIn the next millennium, geographic knowledge will become far more available, and GIS technology will be widely used. There will be many forces that contribute to this growth, including a greater need for geographic information to make the world work. This combination of forces--i.e., population growth, urbanization, natural resource change, globalization, economics, and so forth--seem to me to make this growth inevitable. At the same time, virtually everything that changes will be measured and converted into vast databases that are available to everyone.

From a technology standpoint, improvements in GIS software and network computing will contribute to widespread dissemination and application of geographic knowledge. GIS will get much easier to use, more intuitive, more analytic, and more embedded within a variety of technologies.

In a few years, the desktop- and server-centric computing technology architecture will integrate into a single network platform. The architecture will support many types of GIS data and applications services provided by both public and private sector organizations. A kind of geographic knowledge network will emerge with more opportunities for sharing, cooperating, and learning.

In the information society, GIS will emerge as one of the most important technologies for the integration and communication of that information. GIS will grow into a major mainstream of IT and be seen as technology that can help organizations manage all geographic phenomena in the natural environment as well as the economic, social, and built environments. GIS will be considered a major type of information system, not just a tool used by specialists. People will make major investments in GIS technology for helping manage cities, regions, nations, and eventually the globe. Integrated spatial databases will be created that organize and promote access to all of our geographic knowledge. The results will be more efficient Business, better governing, a more informed society, and a better understanding of our world. GIS will contribute substantially to our science and how we learn. As a result, we will become more geographically literate and this in turn will make people and institutions more accessible, accountable, and responsible.

This is a lot of change but this is what I believe the GIS movement is all about: a better world. It is why I and so many like me feel so passionate about doing it right.

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