The Appeal of GCIs

The concept of geospatial cyberinfrastructures seems to draw from all aspects of GIS: where it came from and where it is going.  The Yang et al article was a very thorough introduction to GCIs and their uses and limitations.  It also seemed to incorporate much advancement in GIS that we have read about over the last few weeks, and presented an opportunity to visualize how all these technologies may work together, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

This topic seems very current, as you hear more and more today of cloud computing, information being held and hosted on the world wide web, and so on.  It emphasized even more the need for shared knowledge and languages, good metadata, and fast processing.  The wealth of possibilities for GCI, as well as the inclusion of domains where it is already useful, was an interesting aspect of this article as well.

What I found to be the most important limitation, that seemed to run through not only most domains and uses mentioned in this article, but recalled as well many of the other tools we have discussed, was the difficulty in dealing with immense amounts of constantly flowing, real-time data.  This issue in itself seems to incorporate many of the needs mentioned above, and is really the crux of what, in my reading, GCIs are about: the ability to successfully, quickly, and knowledgeably share information, questions, and expertise, analyze and upload data, and more.  However, I agree with Madskiier in their suggestion that GCIs are very global by nature, and thus would presume that, through adequate cooperation, this could be a task undertaken by many, as opposed to just a few.

As a student, I found this prospect incredibly interesting, and it drew my mind to the countless hours spent searching for geospatial data for simple research projects.  While students perhaps a fewer connections than established scientists, we also have the power of McGill behind us–and yet finding (good) data is still tremendously time consuming and challenging in many cases.  The idea of a large infrastructure supporting free global geospatial data is quite appealing, and something I hope to see come to fruition.


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