The incoming chairman of the Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA) has just sent out a press release that declares the country the world leader in spatial technology. The audacious claim tones down a bit in the body of the release, and more simply states that there is the intent for the country to be great at spatial technology.
Certainly Australia can lay claim to some geospatial greatness. I’m aware of the good software development work there that spawned ER Mapper and much of Intergraph’s location-based services offerings. I’m sure there are other world-class companies and research institutions in Australia that have contributed to the development of the technology, and I’m sure there are also passionate users of the technology.
Canada can lay claim to being the birthplace of GIS and other policy-driven systems of geospatial monitoring and analysis. I’ve had good exposure to the research and development work that takes place in that nation. There are software companies from Canada that offer products of great utility to the spatial community, including Safe Software and various open source GIS developers that are world leaders in the development of that toolset. The geospatial software development for Autodesk was headquartered in Calgary for years, and I understand there’s still a good contingent there. Bentley also houses their geospatial software development team in Quebec City.
The United Kingdom has a number of geospatial companies and operations. I know of Cadcorp on the software development side, and there’s the influential Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis at the University College London on the research side. There’s also the Ordnance Survey with their amazing map data accuracy and collection processes. I’m sure there are other worthy companies and efforts of note there.
The rest of the European Union has a rich history in spatial technology development, but I’m far less in tune with any other countries in Europe as that’s the domain to my partner Jeff Thurston in Berlin.
The United States is the home to the largest geospatial software company in ESRI, and there are a number of other large software development companies and research efforts. Just in the state of California there is the headquarters of Autodesk and the research facilities of Mike Goodchild and team at the University of California, Santa Barbara. There are also U.S.-based associations that have been around since the inception of GIS in both URISA and GITA that have helped shape the development of the technology by supporting both users and vendors. There are other top-notch geospatial research and development efforts such as the Center for Advanced Spatial Technology at the University of Arkansas, and the Center for Advanced Research of Spatial Information at Hunter College, among others.
This issue of world dominance is a spatial problem that encapsulates not just company headquarters or institutions, but also the nationalities of all the key spatial thinkers and application specialists. I’ve known quite a diverse group of technologists that hail from far and wide, and often travel far and wide. Mike Goodchild for one is a native of the United Kingdom that spent years teaching in Canada before settling in the United States.
I’m wondering if the Olympics helped to spur Australia’s announcement of world dominance with this release that promotes nationalist pride. It’s Australia’s summer right now, and perhaps they’re feeling left out given the winter focus of these games. Who do you think can lay claim to “#geoglobaldomination”?