Initiated by both student inquiry and GIS program renewal, I’ve searched for information on the future of GIS.  What’s the outlook?  What are the trends?  It’s tough to nail down Canadian sources.  But it’s easy to find sources from the last two years for our neighbours south of the border, based out of the United States.

It’s also tough to find really outdated predictions.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how accurate they were?

Many future predictions start with some sort of disclaimer, as shall I:  I don’t have a glass ball…but since I’m being asked……

Geo-stuff is infused everywhere and the future of GIS is looking good.

The best Canadian reference I located is Dr. Robert Ryerson, he’s also the first person in Canada to obtain a PhD in Remote Sensing.  He referred to the “GeoEconomy” within which we are in now.  It’s driven by geo-information.  And the significance of our current economy is that people who use geo-information well will do well, and people who don’t won’t.   Perfect, we’re using it (at Selkirk College), so we’ll prosper – I do believe this. (Although I think he’s really referring to businesses.)

And perhaps it’s because Canadian post-secondary intuitions are facing some challenging financial times that one of Ryerson’s success stories resonates so well within me:

“…the fact that even in difficult times one can justify the expenditure of money on geomatics”.

Excellent, I hope to do that.   I do believe our institution has much to gain from investing in these technologies.

Ryerson goes on to discuss trends, namely:

  • The democratization and access of data
  • Future big markets in [GIS related] government services such as health and epidemiology and predicting and reacting to climate change.

I agree and would also like to add:

  • Privacy challenges
  • Mobile technologies
  • Cloud
  • Open stuff: open source, open data, open standards, open materials; open is becoming the norm and BC is leading.

I would also like to note that one thing is consistent across all articles, journals and textbooks that I’ve consulted on this topic:  the GIS industry is growing and a demand for skilled people is increasing.

Specifically, on GIS Lounge, a 10% growth in 2010 is cited.  My favourite, however (of course), is the United States Department of Labor’s section on High Growth Industry Profile – Geospatial Technology:

“Because the uses for geospatial technology are so widespread and diverse, the market is growing at an annual rate of almost 35 percent”.

Wow.  Sounds exciting.  What are your predictions?

For more info on where our industry is heading, check these below (** indicate preferred reads):

  1. ARC Advisory group, Geospatial Information Systems Market to Experience Vibrant Growth
  2. **GISLounge, GIS Industry Trends and Outlook.
  3. GISlounge, the Future of GIS is in the Cloud.
  4. **GoGeomatics, Dr. Robert ‘Bob’ Ryerson: A Canadian Geomatics Perspective on our Industry and Future.
  5. **Goodchild, Michael, F.  Looking Forward: Five Thoughts on the Future of GIS.
  6. United States Department of Labor, High Growth Industry Profile, Geospatial Technologies.
  7. **Unwin, David, J., Foote, Kenneth, E., Tate, Nicholas, J., DiBiase, David. 2012. Teaching Geographic Information Science and Technology in Higher Education
  8. US Federal IT Market Forecast 2013 – 2018.
  9. Web Magazine, The GIS/Geospatial Industry Forecast for 2010 upbeat despite slowdown in 2009.