Why does GIS need to reach masses? Is it because it means millions of dollars for some – or is it because it is an ‘utility’ that has the potential to be a ‘public utility’. Maybe both… But most of my friends would argue that it is primarily because it has utility. Radio, television or telephone were all at one point of time, products emerging from very focused and specific laboratories and were understood by a small community of scientists. But the mass utility of each technology made it break off from royalty and proprietorship. Then why does GIS need to remain a skill for few? Why may it not be simplified for the use of millions? Perhaps there comes in the bucks!
One might still argue that GIS is still a very niche area to become a public utility. But then, what about geographic information (GI)? In the present era of Internet boom, information is something that has truly become fathomless. And geographic information is part of the information family, which will not see a different day.
The emergence of organisations like Google and Yahoo truly depict a different age. An age different than hardware and software, an age of information services, business and technology. GI is bound to reach the masses. It is a matter of time. What is more important for us (users and providers) is to understand whether we should accept this and prepare tools accordingly or we can still wait for the opportunities to pass.