I knew there was a reason why I worked for a government organisation.. from tomorrow I’m on holiday for two weeks – time to catch up on some reading, DVD’s and to try out building a ruby on rails application !!
Preparing for the holidays got me in a reflective mood looking back over the last 12 months for the GI industry – and what a year! I honestly don’t believe we have seen such rapid developments since the early days of GIS and certainly not with the scale of impact ever.
Clearly many will look back at the development of the mass market web mapping applications as very significant – its hard to believe, but Microsoft Live Local, Google Local, Google Earth and Frappr all appeared this year.
While all these applications have had a major impact in bringing GI to the mainstream and Google Erath in particular has resurrected the globe as a geographical user interface, I believe that the underlying message of all these developments is that – “It’s the content – stupid”
All these applications success, has been made possible by the availability of global geodata initially in the form of imagery at no cost to the consumer. The demand for good quality up to date information can now only increase as the user expectation has been set, and increasingly service providers will need to differentiate themselves based on their content.
This is an important lesson for ESRI with the upcoming launch of ArcGIS explorer, I’m sure explorer will be a more extensible development platform with a open architecture to other data sources, but will it be able to compete in terms of data availability?
The other big trend has been the democratisation of geographic information with community mapping projects and services such as Frapper becoming more popular and indeed the ability to create and publish geographic information is now possible for anybody with a laptop and cheap GPS. For the established Gi industry this is interesting at the moment, but I predict within five years open source geodata will be a reality.
It is disappointing that the GI industry in the UK remains so political with almost constant infighting between the “big fish” in the “small pond”, this seems always to have been the case, and I need to try to remain positive about it – but we are missing out on the innovation that is really moving the market forward elsewhere.
Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.