Computerworld New Zealand continues its coverage of Intergraph’s Peter Batty as he speaks in that country as part of a GITA conference. Titled “GIS specialists should complement Google, Microsoft,” it includes some of Batty’s potentially pithy statements:
“for example, mapping the patterns of occurrence of crime in a city, or maintenance of the electrical network” is an area where the specialist companies will still dominate…
I disagree; mapping patterns, that is, putting dots on the map is one of Google et. al.‘s strengths, see for example, Chicagocrime.org, one of the first and most celebrated mashups. Now, if Mr. Batty is speaking of narrowing down what might explain those patterns, GIS is certainly required. Said another way, offerings from the “generalist” companies as the article calls them hit the “what is where” part of geography. GIS can go further into the “why, so what?” parts, with human intervention required, of course.
“We don’t have ‘numerical information systems’ conferences any more.”
Batty’s said that before, highlighting that geospatial is not special. It seems more pithy with entry of Google, Microsoft, Oracle in the game, doesn’t it?
He suggests, however, a variant of the open source advocates’ “many eyeballs” theory; the more people that use the data the greater the chance that inaccuracies will be detected and weeded out.
Here, here! Now, we just need to be able to capture those corrections, check them… Great minds have been mulling this for years, with alas, slow progress.
Standards for geospatial information are in an uncertain state. “We have an Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) that has created interoperability standards supported by the existing industry players, but along come Microsoft and Google with their own idea of standards, and we have potential conflict.” There are workarounds, he says; developers are putting “wrappers” around Google’s KML language to accommodate it to OGC, but the long-terms future is still difficult to predict.
Another key point. You’d think Batty might be in a position to encourage these players to implement standards. I’m the first to understand that serving up someone else’s data via open interfaces implies that the data can be used for free, and licensing prevents that (at least one attempt at wrapping Google in a WMS was shut down) but why not use that as a way to bring in money to the distributor (say Google) and the data provider (say DigitalGlobe)? GlobeXplorer already does that!