Twenty Years of Progress: GIScience in 2010

Michael Goodchild’s 2010 Invited Keynote Article published in the Journal of Spatial Information Science recognizes the accomplishments and evolution of geographic information science over the last 20 years. Goodchild states early on that “this paper is intended more as a stimulus to others to reflect, and does not pretend to be entirely objective” (2010:03).

GIScience is an emerging field that is still ‘finding its legs’, so to speak, as techniques and concepts developed for application mainly in geography-related endeavors are used more and more by researchers interested in data error and uncertainty, local spatial analysis and statistics, and modelling natural and human phenomena (2010:08).

Goodchild’s use of diagrams to illustrate to readers the results of a citation analysis effectively shows the relation between GIScience researchers and the development of three main sub-domains within GIScience: Spatial analysis and decision-making, environmental modeling and topography, and lastly data modeling and representation (2010:09).

This keynote article accomplished its goal of stimulating reflection as to the origins of GIScience, and where it is going. Goodchild effectively demonstrated that GIScience is growing, with more research being published every year, and enriching the field even more. Goodchild includes a list of 19 peer-reviewed “classic” papers that illustrate through their title alone the multidisciplinary and evolving field that is GIScience (2010:10). He then lists several topics that have yet to be researched within GIScience, from “neogeography” to the “third, fourth, and fifth dimensions” (2010:14).

I agree with Goodchild in that reflection on the past is crucial to better understand what has left to be done and discovered. GIScience may have a relatively short history, but it is gaining some serious momentum. Now we have to ask ourselves, what will GIScience look like in another 20 years? And how will it have changed our understanding of the space that surrounds us?


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