On the need for GI Science promotion in developing nations

Authors: Michael Gould*, Esri
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Africa, Development
Keywords: GI Science, GIS, developing nations, outreach
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Committee Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Geographic Information Science, as an offshoot of Geographic Information Systems, was defined as the concepts, theories and methodologies behind the systems. Since 1992 GI Science has grown modestly within the wealthy world --among those at the top of Maslow's pyramid. However, visits to the "geo" programs at more than 300 universities across the world over the past decade have shown that GI Science is essentially non-existent in a majority of nations. GIS is still mostly taught as toolbox to be dominated and applied to a narrow range of geographical problems. As a gross caricature it might be said that GIS at universities is being used mostly to study landcover change with Landsat images and to digitize streets in OpenStreetMap. Practice of any deep human or physical geography, creation of geographical theories, critical studies, and novel algorithms are few and far between across huge areas of 3 major continents. I show the world map of where GI Science is not practiced and I suggest several proposals for outreach to these areas, including volunteer teaching visits, joint projects, remote mentoring, a possible traveling circus conference series, and online learning.

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