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GIS should be considered as part of GeoICT

C Vincent Tao
C Vincent Tao
Geospatial Information and Communication Technology (GeoICT) Lab, canada
Canada Research Chair in Geomatics
[email protected]

Dr Tao’s expertise is in the integration of open and high performance spatial information technology, intelligent image processing and computer graphics technology with geomatics. Known for pioneering work in the development of geospatial information and communication technology (GeoICT), he shares his views with [email protected]

What governs the concept of GeoICT? How extensively is the concept known?
GeoICT means Geospatial Information and Communication Technology. The concept is to integrate the geospatial technology into the mainstream of ICT. This is the vision that is well known to our geospatial community. There have been many discussions and debates in the last past regarding this technological trend. Integration of geospatial technology with ICT has been taken place but there are still a lot of work to do both in terms of technology integration as well as market development. This is the main reason that I founded the GeoICT research lab to foster this development.

“An important notion for GeoICT is that location becomes a key that links to the geospatial technology and the ICT applications”

Seeing the current trends in development of GIS technologies, how GeoICT differs from GIS?
There are several trends towards the GIS technology development. GeoICT is considered as one of these trends from a technical viewpoint. More importantly, GIS should be considered as part of GeoICT which provides even broader applications that traditional GIS may have not addressed well. In my view, GeoICT is truly an interdisciplinary area that would require the integration of GIS, position and tracking, remote sensing and ICT technologies. Location-Based Services (LBS) or Location Intelligence (LI) is a typical GeoICT application. Traditional GIS may have other trends, such as better handling the social aspects of GIS, more advanced spatial analysis etc.

What changes and modifications are needed to be made to accommodate GeoICT in the research, industry and academia?
It is a fact that there are few institutions in North America that have dedicated academic programs in GeoICT. Both the research and industry communities are still fragmented. It is also recognized that the industry has adapted to this trend better than the academic program which tends to be more conservative and slow responsive to the market demands. An important notion for GeoICT is that location becomes a key that links to the geospatial technology and the ICT applications. The application area is beyond what the traditional GIS or geomatics are offering. For example, use of RFID/GPS for geospatial tracking and supply chain management.

GeoICT Lab
GeoICT Lab is funded by the Canada Research Chair program, Canada Foundation for Innovation, Ontario Innovation Trust and York University. The lab is involved in three main research streams:

  • Geospatial Information Stream
    • SensorWebs
    • Open and Distributed Internet and Wireless GIS and GIService
    • Mobile Geocomputing and LBS
    • Web-based 3D/4D Geospatial Visualization
    • Intelligent Geospatial Handling Algorithms
    • Web-based Spatial Data Mining and Information Fusion
  • Geospatial Imaging Stream
    • Photogrammetric Processing of High-Resolution Satellite Image Processing
    • Intelligent Feature Analysis and Post-Processing of Airborne Lidar/InSAR
    • Automated Feature Extraction, Data Fusion and Change Detection
    • Mobile Mapping Image Sequences Analysis
    • Video Image Analysis and Mosaic
  • Integrated GeoICT Systems and Applications
    • Disaster monitoring and management
  • Health and Infectious disease/invasive species monitoring


How do you see the growth of GeoICT around the world particularly in developing countries?
The GeoICT market has grown substantially. Firms like Oracle and Microsoft are some of the market drivers who have invested a great deal in this emerging market. In developing countries, I have seen many impressive developments in wireless based GeoICT applications. Clearly countries like China and India have the most fast growing population in adopting the wireless technologies.

The enterprise applications in GeoICT, for example, integrating geospatial components with the enterprise large database solutions, are growing but may not be as hot as in North America. However, I can see the growing needs in some of vertical applications such as emergency responses and disaster management.

How strong is the component of navigational and positional technologies in GeoICT?
The positioning component is important to the GeoICT applications. In most applications, the spatial entities need to be tracked or positioned in the database, for example, vehicle tracking and dispatching. In fact, the communication part of GeoICT is always associated with the navigational and positional components.

Kindly give few instances/case-studies where application of GeoICT has yielded greater economic and social benefits.
There are many of very good GeoICT applications. Assets management is a typical one that tracks the remote assets including fleet, instruments, and even field workers. Supplier chain management has shown a strong economic return. Technologies such as GPS, wireless communication, mapping etc have been integrated with these above systems. It has been used for energy operations, emergency responses, container tracking and management etc.

Web services based mapping and location intelligence are very promising. Location-based Microsoft MapPoint services, ESRI ArcWeb services, and OGC spatial web services will become a catalyst to this market.

Integrating business intelligence and pervasive location information is a trend to business analysis and spatial information management (SIM). Spatial data visualization in a context of a location environment has a constant growing. Typical applications include locational data display and reporting, and location-targeted advertisements.