By Roger F Tomlinson
The author is President of Tomlinson Associates Ltd., Canada. He was chairman of the International Geographical Union GIS Commission for 12 years, and he is known as the ‘father of GIS’ as a result of his work in using computers to model land inventories for the Canadian government in the early email@example.com
Today the study of geography is changing significantly and beneficially and, in particular, expanding outside academic confines. This is enabling the domain to meet the demand for the use of geographic science to address myriad issues facing the world.
Geographers have as their task the description and explanation of the living space of humans and the resulting spatial structure of society. The development of formal views of these concerns forms the basis for the modern science of geography. But, the extent and complexity of the world we live in make this task hard. The volumes of data that result from even cursory global investigation are a serious impediment to our understanding. Fifty years ago, it was not possible to handle any large set of the hard copy maps and data that were being gathered, much less analyse them in any efficient way. The resulting inability - indeed the failure - to ask questions, let alone consider in depth the role of various interacting influences shaping the individual and societal factors, left us with a deep and generally unrecognised ignorance of space and time behaviour. The advent of computers as...