Jian Kang Wu
Institute for Infocomm Research,
Embedded GIS, by definition, refers to the geographic data and functionalities embedded into other systems and applications. This could be an application within a Web browser, functions embedded within word processing documents and spreadsheets, or mapping provided within applications, such as command and control, or environmental monitoring systems. Embedded GIS represents the trend. Although the mainstream GIS will still exist, we will see widespread products, systems and applications with embedded GIS.
Embedded GIS is the Trend
Geographic data is one of many data types our people and society are using. GIS, or Geographic Information System, has been an independent technology and product area for decades. Technologies, systems, and products have been built, and successfully applied mainly in environment and resource management. GIS addresses the specific properties and explores the benefit of geographic data and information. Geographic information, or by large, spatial data and information, is one of many data and information types our people and society acquire, process, analysis and utilize. Another important data type, for example, is “multimedia”, which we usually mean image, video, speech, and text. Multimedia data and information are believed to be the major portion of the data and information we are dealing with in our daily life and business.
Applications usually demand for multiple data types, not geographic only. Our people and society are using all types of information in their daily living and business. While you drive along a highway around 7pm, you would want to find a nearest restaurant with good food. The government of a city would want a system to manage not only resources and environment, but also investment, education, and administration. These two example applications would require all types of data and information, including numerical data, text, image, video and speech, as well as maps. In such an application system, for each data types, functions to manipulate, process, analysis, input and output the data should be included. If you would like to include the image of the restaurant and its menu in the mobile system, functions for image storage, processing and display are needed together with map display and distance calculations.
There are variety of applications, requiring embedded GIS. Some are as specific as including spatial data in their report. Some are as large as an integrated system for multi-level governmental administrations. In these application systems, the common component is database. In later 80’s and early 90’s, major database companies were successful in developing multimedia datablade to extend the data type to include multimedia. Now they further extend the database by developing spatial datablade. So far, GIS systems are not as scalable and powerful; GIS has to ride on existing web technologies, database systems, to reach wide application areas.