The Future of Geovisualization technologies…

The emergence of new geovisualization technologies such as Google maps and Google earth are revolutionizing the way people interact with GIS. Contrary to software based programs, these web based applications allow for unprecedented access, at no cost, to powerful visualization technologies. In addition, previously text based web apps, such as Facebook and twitter are now incorporating spatial components. For example, a person is now able to tag their exact location, down to a particular building, when they update their status on Facebook. Web-based geovisualization technologies are growing in popularity because most of them are free, very easy to access (usually only an internet connection is required), and they allow for the standardization and greater sharing of spatial data. This last point is extremely important because it has opened up a wealth of research applications. For example, a researcher in Greenland might be tracking ice flows, while a researcher in northern Canada may be tracing the migration patterns of polar bears. Web based geovisualization technologies such as Google earth now allow both researchers to interpolate their data on the same map; opening avenues for further research, such as how season ice flows affect polar bear migration patterns.

On other point that must be brought up, and that was addressed well by Elwood, is the heterogeneity of the huge amounts of data being generated by these new geovisualization technologies. Thanks to these technologies, large and diverse data-sets are now available covering a wide variety of user-imputed geospatial data. However, an important challenge for the future will be how to standardize these data-sets, as much of the data is based on opinions rather than standard data-points. Most people have shifting meanings on how they perceive their local geographical points. Standardization will also be important as datasets become larger and larger, requiring more automation of analysis.


-Victor Manuel


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