Back to the future – State of the Industry 1999

So the end of 2006, the beginning of a new year, what will the next year of developments in the world of geographic information bring, are we seeing the birth of neogeography ? Rather than discuss this now I thought it would be more fun to go back to the future and look at some predictions I made back in 1999.

Mapping AwarenessMapping Awareness was the main UK GIS industry magazine throughout the 1990’s and it’s first issue of the year always carried an industry outlook feature, trying to get various predictions of the directions the industry was likely to follow, yes maybe navel gazing, but entertaining and something which continues today in GeoConnexion UK Magazine.

Thanks to the time machine that is Martins filling cabinet, the 1999 Mapping Awareness has fallen into my hands, and well I don’t think I did too badly in my predictions.

BTW Purple was very fashionable then (OK maybe not)

What are the most important trends for GIS and related products and services?

Technology convergence seems to be occurring throughout the GI and wider IT industry, as maturing technologies become integrated in “solution-based” systems. GPS is becoming the new must-have toy, but is a powerful tool when connected to desktop mapping and navigation packages. The boundary between CAD and GIS has finally disappeared; indeed many professionals use GIS technology without knowing it. Of course, perhaps the most important trend is the development of network-centric applications designed to operate across inter/intra/extranets.

OK so the CAD/GIS thing is still a problem… but network centric bit was right !!

What are the most important user/customer trends for GIS and related applications?

The “dumbing down of GIS” means that many of the current users of GIS have little or no geographical training, but are beginning to use GIS technology in the same way they might use Microsoft Excel. You don’t have to be an accountant to use Excel? The challenge for the GIS industry is for us to be able to say that you don’t need to be a geographer to use GIS. Users’ perception of the value of information is also changing. The Internet is an enormous source of low cost or free information. CD ROM dEd in 1998atabases such as Microsoft Encarta provide high-quality, accurate information, yet geographic data is still expensive and difficult to use.

To me this seems very relevant today, finally the web tools provided by Google, Microsoft etc are making this prediction come true and well the value of geodata is a pretty hot topic!

What segments of the geotechnology market will grow fastest during the next three years in the UK?

The markets that will grow fastest include Web GIS; navigation systems; handheld/palm-based GIS integrated with GPS; embedded GIS. such as the contact locator in Outlook 98; and consumer GIS packages, Low-cost/Low-functionality desktop GIS (e.g. Microsoft Mappoint).

OK a couple of years too soon, and the wrong platform, the web killed the low cost desktop GIS package.

I will not embarrass my fellow contributors my reproducing their predictions, none of us escape without some egg on the face..

Have a great New Years celebration and don’t forget to listen to the New Years Day Today programme on Radio 4 under the editorial control of a bunch of geographers !!

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

One comment

  1. Martin Daly

    Ed, you’re a better man than me, so it is lucky for some that you posted this and not me. I would definitely have named-and-shamed a few of the futurologists.

    If I remember correctly, one of the contributors predicted the near-immediate demise of desktop GIS thanks to the Internet. Seven years on and we’re still all waiting for that one. Any predictions for 2014?

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