1.7 Future of Mapping Technology

The definitions and approaches to GIS described above illustrate this information technology’s scope and breadth. Furthermore, as GIS becomes more accessible and widely distributed, there will always be new questions to be answered, new applications to be developed, and innovative technologies to integrate.

One notable development is the emergence of web-based GIS or Web GIS. Web GIS refers to integrating the vast amounts of content available on the Internet (e.g., text, photographs, video, and music) with geographic information, such as location. Adding such geographic information to such content is called geotagging, like geocoding. Integrating geographic information with such content opens new ways to access, search, organize, share, and distribute information.

Web-based mapping applications combine data and information from one source and map it with online mapping applications. There are mashups for everything that can be assigned a location, from restaurants and music festivals to your photographs and favorite hikes. GPS technology within smartphones has also revolutionized how geographic data is collected and distributed worldwide.

The diffusion of GIS and the emergence of Web GIS have increased geographic awareness by lowering the barriers to viewing, using, and even creating maps and related geographic data and information. Though there are several benefits to this democratization of GIS, and more generally, information and technology, it should also be recognized that there are consequences and implications.

As with any other technology, great care must be taken in using and applying GIS. For instance, when was the last time you questioned what appeared on a map? For better or worse, maps are among the most authoritative forms of information. As tomorrow’s GIS practitioners, you can influence decisions and how others view and relate to the world with the maps you create in a GIS environment. Therefore, what and how you choose to map is a nontrivial exercise. Becoming more aware of our biases, limitations, and preferences allows us to confidently take advantage of geographic information systems.

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Geographic Information Systems and Cartography Copyright © 2022 by adamdastrup is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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