Goodchild – 20 Years of GIS progress

Michael Goodchild in 2010 published an article attempting to grasp the progress that GIS science had made over the course of its 20-existence. He uses this paper as a way to encapsulate the state that it is seen is from Academia, touching on the debate as to whether GIS is a science, discussed its major accomplishments and discussed further dilemmas the GIS world will soon be needing to address. A few statements proved to be prophetic, he stated that we may soon be in a world in which all public transportation vehicles would be possible to monitor in real time and it has come to be that way. Many websites free to the public offer this service. Issues of privacy and data collection come at the forefront as citizens become both consumers and producers of geographic information, which has become ubiquitous since the mass popularity of smartphone devices. People are thus always tracked, and governments, app developers and other private interest may have access to these things. Would it be the role of GI Science to determine the opacity and access of their produced results? If it were to be a science, its ethics would have to be more clearly defined. As I had been learning GIS as an undergraduate, I understood the ethical dilemmas being dealt with on a case-by-case basis. He brings up issues of education quite often, would ethics be necessary to be taught with a university context? I would say so, it’s important to acknowledge the utility and the potential dangers of such a tool. Harkening back to the major accomplishments Goodchild discusses in the second part of his article, perhaps a major accomplishment GIS can aim for is the recognition of a universal ethical code.


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