Department of Geography
San Diego State University, USA
Most GIS professionals expect that the Internet is the future of GIS. This paper provides an introduction to Internet GIS technologies by discussing today’s realities and a vision of the future Internet GIS. This paper will also introduce some examples of data standards for the Internet GIS
Internet GIS is definitely a very hot topic today. It has a tremendous potential in almost every subfield of traditional Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It may even change our lifestyle in the next few years. Huge outlays of effort, money, and people have developed the related technologies, software packages and applications.
What is Internet GIS?
What is Internet GIS? The book, Internet GIS: Distributed Geographic Information Services for the Internet and Wireless Networks, defines Internet GIS as: “network-based geographic information services that utilize both wired and wireless Internet to access geographic information, spatial analytical tools, and GIS web services” (Peng and Tsou, 2003, p. xxx). There are a few key concepts in this definition. First, “network-based” indicates that the whole framework of Internet GIS is sharable and exchangeable. Second, the method of telecommunication includes both “wired and wireless”. Mobile devices with wireless communication are an integral part of the Internet GIS framework. Finally, the contents of Internet GIS include not only displaying Internet maps or sharing on-line geospatial information, but also providing advanced GIS analysis functions and new information services.
The distributed Internet GIS framework, is an example of the revolution of information systems — from traditional architecturally closed and centralized information systems to more open and distributed information service architectures (Tsou and Buttenfield, 2002). The driving force behind this transformation of GIS architecture is the availability of new technology in network communication and programming. New languages such as Java, Python, and C# (C-sharp) support platform-independent applications across the Internet. Advanced network technologies, such as Microsoft .NET framework, J2EE platform, and Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) provide a comprehensive scheme for distributed component technology essential to the development of Internet GIS. Distributed component technology allows clients to access heterogeneous servers dynamically, which is an essential feature of distributed GIServices. We foresee a future in which traditional GISystems, designed as isolated islands, will become increasingly less attractive, maybe disappearing altogether. The cost efficiencies and flexibility of reusable and interoperable open and distributed services interfaces will provide greater economies. GIServices focus on open, distributed, task-centered services, which will broaden geographic information uses into an increasingly wide range of on-line geospatial applications These include digital libraries, digital governments, on-line mapping, data clearinghouses, real-time spatial decision support tools, distance learning modules, and so on.
Fig 1 Three kinds of Internet GIS