The future of GCI – more acronyms!

Yang et al. (2010) Geospatial Cyberinfrastructure: Past, present and future

Yang et al. (2010) describe how the complex conglomeration of resources, networks, platforms, and services that is cyberinfrastructure (CI) is combined with geospatial information and principles to form the geospatial cyberinfrastructure (GCI). The authors conduct a review of the current GCI research, development, and teachings to determine the status of GCI. Subsequently they go on to predict how CGI will transform the geospatial sciences and other fields.

The GCI objectives put forward by this paper are certainly hopeful in what they seek to achieve, but they may in fact be quixotic. The authors are likely correct that advancements in technology will transform the GCI, especially in the realm of data sharing and increasing volume of geospatial data, however, Yang et al. do not consider the role of social obstacles. The sharing of data is not as simple as handing over it over to someone. The lack of standards and consensus surrounding standards impedes the interoperability of data between users. Defining standards may be likened to finding a common ontology within GIScience – it is subject to debate and differences between public and private usage. Licensing is another can of worms, as rights of ownership vary greatly between states around the world. Calls for open data have initiated the data standardization discussions although it is unlikely that major adoption will occur in the near future.

This article suffered from a lack of readability. A puzzling number of acronyms standing in the place of a myriad of neologisms made this article awfully confusing. I assume the intended audience of this article is academic researchers that are familiar with the technical jargon of GCI. For a newcomer to cyberinfrastructure this article makes the topic seem hopelessly esoteric.



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