Making Connections for Better Understanding

Geography, the science of our world, and GIS, the technology based on geography, are both predicated on discovering connections in space and time to create a better understanding of our world. GIS has evolved from a methodology for spatially integrating project data to a geospatial infrastructure for interconnecting knowledge domains and framing human activities at scales from the local to the global.

Advances in GIS technology continue expanding geospatial infrastructure in the cloud. With the introduction of ArcGIS Enterprise for Kubernetes, a cloud-native deployment option for ArcGIS Enterprise, GIS can be more scalable, resilient, and easily maintained. ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, a cloud-based repository of the foremost collection of geographic information from around the world, powers the development of innovative applications built with ArcGIS technology.

The integration of GIS with other technologies has significantly increased its impact. Because GIS and BIM data can be exchanged, digital twins of neighborhoods, facilities, or even cities can now furnish geographic context for built environments, both existing and proposed.

The release of ArcGIS Platform, a location platform as a service, has made the foundational components of ArcGIS widely available to developers for use in all kinds of apps and technologies. Working with large providers of technology such as Salesforce, SAP, and Microsoft, Esri is making the benefits of location technology more widely available to knowledge workers. Esri is also partnering with major companies and industry groups in fields such as transit and real estate to enhance and integrate ArcGIS location technology in tools and systems.

Articles in this issue illustrate how ArcGIS has adopted IT innovations in data analysis and computing techniques. Machine learning is turbocharging imagery analysis and the basemap update process for Kuwait. 3D visualization is improving housing policy decisions. The KnowWhereGraph project gages the impact of environmental changes on society.

However, meeting the many challenges we face in society and the world—from racial inequity to the loss of nature to climate change—requires not only the integration of GIS technology but the adoption of geographic thinking. Geography is a powerful and comprehensive way of organizing and integrating knowledge. Geospatial literacy will help us better understand our problems and GIS will help us visualize solutions.

About the author

Monica Pratt

Monica Pratt is the founding and current editor of ArcUser magazine, the executive editor of ArcNews magazine, the editor of Esri Globe and head of the Publications team at Esri. She has been writing on technology topics, specializing in GIS, for more than 25 years. Before joining Esri in 1997, she worked for newspapers and in the financial industry.