Porting the Richness of GIS onto a Web Map

by Matt Ball on September 29, 2009

The ease of creating an online web mapping experience that taps a strong GIS foundation has gotten much easier over the past few years. A rich user experience that offers seamless map viewing along with tools for analysis and decision making is now very possible.

To my mind, this negates the “neo” vs. “paleo” debate and illustrates through compelling applications where GIS on the Web can take us. GIS has taken the leap to become more open and developer friendly, and allows both the “neo” and “paleo” crowd the tools to extend functionality almost to the limits of their imagination.

The CUNY Mapping Service is one organization that is illustrating this new power to an exciting degree. Their Open Accessible Space Information System (OASIS) was a pioneering vision for web mapping back in 2000, and it’s now getting a major upgrade. The organization is also responsible for creating the Long Island Index interactive map that combines regional planning data with a rich set of analysis capabilities to promote sustainable development.

I recently spoke at length to Steve Romalewski, director of the CUNY Mapping Service at the CUNY Graduate Center. He sums up the GIS community’s backlash to the mash-up mentality very nicely:

“Once you think a little bit more about geographic data that you’re working with and the potential to analyze information spatially and visualize it spatially, the different mash-ups that are out there that just show dot locations of things become very limited and repetitious. We’re interested to try to go much further beyond the simple mash-up, and really think about how we can layer in more information in a way that facilitates understanding of relationships and how the world works in more interesting ways.”

Read the full interview here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John September 29, 2009 at 10:36 am

What is the geo/paleo debate by your definition? And how does this negate it?

Matt Ball September 29, 2009 at 11:04 am

The neo vs. paleo debate pins those doing mashups with those that have been working on GIS for a long time. The debate has largely been about tools and capacity in my mind, with “neo” holding the “paleo” crowd in some contempt, largely because the “paleo” toolset wasn’t flexible enough for what they wanted to accomplish. Now that GIS tools are much more accessible and robust for Web mapping, the technology divide that is at the heart of these two camps goes away. Now, it’s more about creating interesting and robust applications, regardless of the tools we deploy.

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