I had a lengthy conversation with David Schell about global change in Calgary during the 2007 GeoTec Event. David was there to receive the GeoTec Media Visionary Achievement Award, and true to the award’s name, he’s continuing his leadership role in the geospatial community by spearheading the OGC Interoperability Institute.
The goal of this new organization is to, “help advance the development and adoption of open standards, interoperable solutions, policies and practices that improve society’s ability to use geospatial data and technologies to address important social, environmental and economic issues.”
This new organization aims to foster the use of geospatial technologies as an integrative tool across many scientific disciplines. David discussed the idea of spatial temporal computing and the need to model sensor webs and the climate in real time in order to get a handle on climate change.
For instance, the idea that the ocean will rise by half an inch each year has huge global implications. Not only can spatial tools monitor this change, they can also model the potential outcomes and help scientists find answers to mitigate and manage the outcomes.
David also discussed energy depletion as another global change, with enormous economic impact, that stands to benefit from the cross-disciplinary application of spatial tools. In recent years we’ve seen interesting applications of mapping, such as wind for potential wind farms or the mapping of underground structures for pumping the outputs of coal burning for carbon sequestration. The energy question goes beyond sources to issues such as efficient delivery, consumption and the environmental implications. Spatial tools play in each of these areas.
This discussion with David closely matched the ideas behind the creation of Vector1 Media. We shared the feeling that it’s time to get beyond the technology and address big picture issues. Spatial has a role to play in understanding impacts, analyzing the strains on systems, visualizing how systems interrelate and quantifying the constraints of systems.
Spatial tools also have the ability to break down the compartments of science and perhaps foster a new science with a transdisciplinary approach. Spatial tools combine both analysis and synthesis to put together new images for where we must act. A scientific methodology that is commensurate with the problems that we face.
To a large degree, geospatial tools are capable of achieving the understanding that we seek. It’s time to focus less on technology and more on the application of this technology.
As David put it, “Let’s declare victory and move on.”