Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Geospatial Thoughts

I started out as a Physical Geographer. The early days of the Internet coincided with my move from England to the US. The possibilities of a geospatial Web led me to GIS in the mid 1990's. I took a Masters degree and dipped my toe into geospatial programming. Over 10 years later I'm still programming. The early geospatial efforts I worked with - MapObjects IMS, ArcIMS and Viewers - were a start. But somewhat unfulfilling for a user; waiting for new map images to reload after pans and zooms was a pain. I always wondered about how the user experience could be improved. This led me to Flash and now Flex or rich internet mapping applications.

My working life is spent surrounded by computer scientists. But, I remain first a geographer second a programmer. People have asked me what that means. I usually reply that I think about my work geospatially. "You mean in terms of maps?" is often the response. It struck me, this is how many think of geography and geospatial.

I'm writing an article for the new LBx Journal. Its aimed at business executives. I'll post it on the blog when I am done. It deals in more depth with this issue. This may form the first in a series exploring geospatial and business. At a basic level how can business take advantage of geospatial? Increasingly I view my work from a business angle. The geospatial community seems focused on the 'building and they will come' approach. If geospatial becomes an integrated part of business, and not separate as it is today, we need to start demonstrating its power to solve business problems. I attend too many geospatial conferences where 'how can we make money' is a central topic. Let's start looking through the lens of a business executive. Understand their perspective, then take our knowledge of geospatial and provide them with solutions. Focus on understanding the problem and monetizing solutions.

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