Manual of Geographic Information Systems Forward

Manual of Geographic Information Systems
Marguerite Madden PhD editor


Jack Dangermond

(PDF Version 60Kb)

I can recall the time not long ago when there were no manuals of GIS no textbooks of GIS and no journals devoted to GIS; a time when the existing literature consisted mostly of papers presented at conferences and final reports of the few projects that had used what has come to be called GIS technology.

Now after only a generation the ASPRS Manual of Geographic Information Systems captures within the scope of one large volume the explosive growth of the GIS field surveying what has been accomplished in the last 50 years what is being done today and what is on the horizon for tomorrow.

GIS is interdisciplinary; geospatial data are brought together through the cooperation and collaboration of workers in many scientific and technical fields from government industry and academia. This ASPRS GIS Manual facilitates photogrammetry and remote sensing working more closely with GIS; that will inevitably produce important new scientific and technological developments.

GIS is about using the geographic approach: the science and technology of capturing storing managing analyzing modeling integrating and then applying—particularly to decision making—geographic or geospatial information of many kinds including as primary data sources remotely-sensed data and imagery.

The challenging times we live in have played an important role in fostering the growth of GIS.

We need to better understand and better manage our planet. Growing human population unsustainable use of natural resources loss of biodiversity human hunger and poverty climate change rapid urbanization wars terrorism energy use natural disasters food production human health—and many other issues—are problems we must address.

GIS plays a role in dealing with each of these.

In dealing with these problems large resources have been devoted to creating new science and technology including both the science and technology of remote sensing and of geospatial information.

The development of these new capabilities has also been driven by rapid advances in technology including more powerful computer processors on ever smaller microchips high capacity storage devices high speed wide-band communications improved display devices faster graphics processors new visualization techniques and the remarkable evolution and rapid growth of the Internet including wireless network access.

These new capabilities have strongly influenced photogrammetry and remote sensing.

Remotely-sensed data are increasingly available and affordable; they come from a widening array of sources and sensing devices. Satellites can now collect staggering amounts of data and transmit high definition television; autonomous and unmanned vehicles provide platforms for remote sensing on land sea and in the air and at ever higher spatial resolution. We are on the threshold of creating an instrumented universe in which pervasive remote sensing will be complemented by vast numbers of networked sensors and measuring instruments located throughout the human and natural environments.

These developments provide many challenges. Terabyte petabyte and even larger sized image databases need to be managed and used effectively and securely. National and global spatial data infrastructures need to be created. Users want access to authoritative data in near real time in 3D and in high definition. They need searchable metadata and efficient geospatial browsers to locate these data.

These and other challenges provide opportunities for GIS science and technology to complement photogrammetry and remote sensing. The rapid growth of GIS applications of GIS use and of the GIS industry all show that GIS is up to the task.

Professionals from many disciplines including photogrammetry and remote sensing have critical roles to play in these developments. They must provide technical mastery: developing improved technology and methods devising QA/QC procedures providing authoritative content setting standards assuring interoperability increasing efficiency and managing costs. They are needed in policy making management and to advise decision makers. They must also do the fundamental research and educate and train the next generation of professionals.

Also in recent years because of the capabilities and ease of use of free intuitive viewers on Internet websites like Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth the use of imagery and maps by non-professional and casual users has greatly increased. These “neogeographers” also create content and mashups of content. Professionals have an important role to play in responding to these developments.

I hope this Manual will bring all geospatial professionals closer together. We need their cooperation and collaboration in problem solving; we need them to lead our efforts to meet the challenges we face.

As we confront these great challenges with such capable science and technology I look forward to an exciting future.

Jack Dangermond
Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. (ESRI)