Geographic Information Systems: Future Technology and Market Trends Part 1

Geographic Information Systems (GIS), is an electronic data system which captures, stores, analyses and displays information that is obtained by geographical referencing. Generally, the data in these systems is stored as multi-dimensional co-ordinates in a relational database, which are retrieved to perform spatial queries and analysis.

A GIS system allows to record a base map with a geospatial referencing (Geographical Referencing) as longitudes or latitudes and then adds additional layers of other information depending on the request made. Importantly, that information is identified using the same geospatial referencing made by latitudes or longitudes. It can show many different kinds of data on one map. This enables users to easily see, analyse and understand patterns and relationships across various domains.

Geographic Information Systems application have wide range of uses from locating indigenous people, communities, research institutions, environmental scientists, health organizations; land planning, telecommunications and public sectors. The usage of GIS systems is growing rapidly with increased deployment by government and businesses.

There is virtually no limit to the kind of information that can be analysed using GIS and as technology is growing, applications of GIS in different industries is trending. However, a point to be noted is that the accuracy and efficiency of the data retrieved from GIS is largely dependent on the availability of accurate, spatial information (as base of GIS is geography).

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Technologies has evolved significantly since its emergence in late 1960. In recent years, mapping and data analysis has become an integral part of analysing geographical space. GIS software has been evolved from providing descriptive (where & what) to prescriptive (so what and why) information about geographical space. Maps are increasingly being used from understanding physical description of geographical space to understanding complex spatial relationships by interpreting mapping data and combining map layers.

Evolution of Geographic Information Systems Systems can be Categorized into Following Phases

Phase 1: Era of Computer Mapping for Automating Map Drafting Process

In early 1970, computer systems were used for automating map drafting process. Two-dimensional (2D) coordinates were used to define geographical space in the form of points, lines and area. This has helped users in changing a portion of a map and redrafting the entire image automatically. Hence computer mapping were successful in automating the map drafting processes.

Phase 2: Database Management Integration for User-Friendliness of Geographic Analysis

In 1980, computer mapping were integrated with spatial database management systems. The integration helped in improving user-friendliness of geospatial analysis. In this, each geographic feature were assigned a unique identification number enabling users to retrieve location information by simply pointing to any location on the map. In addition, a user can conduct a geographical search by specifying a set of parameters about the location, and get the result displayed as a map.

Phase 3: Map Modelling and Analysis Using Digital Maps

Soon, during 1990, GIS technology evolved from descriptive query based processes to comprehensive map analysis using digital maps. In this, spatial information was represented numerically rather than traditional analog based inked lines on a map. These digital maps were often a set of “floating maps” with a common registration enabling computers to look up to these floating digital maps. The digital representation of maps helped user in conducting several analytical processing unlike traditional approach of manual analytic processes.

Phase 4: Widespread Adoption and Social Acceptance of Geographic Information Systems

Increasing acceptance of GIS technologies by several businesses lead to the emergence of newer map forms and processing environment. Several vendors started offering GIS SaaS services and tailored application based GIS solutions. The emergence of integration and interoperability standards lead to improved flexibility of GIS applications with custom views and display capability, and integration of other analytical tools. This resulted in widespread adoption and social acceptance of GIS technology in a variety of applications.

GIS systems were increasingly integrated with global positioning systems (GPS) and remote sensing imagery systems. GIS integration with GPS brought the technology into the palm of the hand for understanding geographic positioning with instant digital maps. The new processing environment and evolution of display technologies have significantly transformed GIS application for spatial information.

This is how the traditional GIS systems based on 2D paper map has transformed to provide more accurate spatial information into visual 3D maps leading to widespread adoption by different industry applications.

In our next blog, we will provide insights about how future mega trends are further transforming the GIS system. Our next blog will focus on:

  • Impact of Virtual Reality and Immersive imaging
  • 3D-GIS to 4D-GIS Systems with time as the fourth dimension
  • Predictive modelling and Prescriptive Analysis

For more information about GIS Market Trends, please refer our latest Geographic Information Systems Market Outlook Research

Keywords: Geospatial Information Systems, Geographic Information Systems, GIS Technology, Future Trends, Technology Trends, Market Trends, GPS Systems, Geospatial Referencing, Mapping, Digital Maps, Map Modelling , Map Analysis

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