Understanding the Ecosystem of Geospatial Research and Service in Universities

Authors: Weihe Wendy Guan*, Harvard University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: geospatial, GIS, research, service, university
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Roosevelt 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Location matters. The study of location and location-based phenomena is a flourishing field with many names: geographic information science and systems, geoinformatics, geographic analysis, spatial analysis, geospatial analytics, geo data science, to name just a few. Many universities have grown their research and/or services in this field (let us call it GIS for short), established centers or units that are primarily engaged in the research of this field, or applying technologies produced by this field to support researches of other fields (such as forestry, urban planning, public health, sociology, and many more). Some straddle "research of" and "research with" GIS in the same center or unit, engaging in both GIScience research, often by researchers in a department or school, and geospatial technology services, often for users across the university.

We conducted an online survey in early 2018 to scour the landscape of such centers in universities worldwide, to understand how they are structured, managed, financed, and sustained. The survey also included units with 1 or more dedicated staff as part of a library, department or lab. Eighty-four valid responses were analyzed, revealing these organizations’ administrative, financial, staffing, and operational status; their history, visions, responsibilities, resources, constrains, challenges and opportunities. The result showed differences between universities with and without a geography department. We hope to repeat this survey in 5 years which will produce longitudinal data for trend analysis.

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