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What is GIS Day and why it matters?

Today, November 13, 2019, is a red-letter day for the entire geospatial fraternity. GIS Day is an opportunity for all GIS enthusiasts, hobbyists, professionals, researchers, students and those in applied sectors to commemorate the legacy and utility of a system that has redefined the way we interact with the world, broadened the horizons of our minds and whetted our innovative zeal.

GIS Day was the brainchild of Esri, the global leader in spatial and location intelligence that certainly needs no introduction, to enhance global geospatial awareness and show the myriad applications of GIS. Ever since it was first observed in 1999, it is observed with gusto each year on the third Wednesday of November.

GIS helps organizations make faster decisions, streamline processes and with the help of accurate visualizations it saves time and illuminates what was previously either unmapped or invisible.

The applications of GIS are unbounded and it is everyday unveiling new opportunities before our eyes. As Jack Dangermond, Founder and CEO, Esri famously said: “The application of GIS is limited only by the imagination of those who apply it”.

As we move towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution, geospatial is becoming ubiquitous and by default the go-to technology in all domains. It has become the great enabler as well as the linchpin of future innovation. Be it our day-to-day activities or cutting edge futuristic research, modern-day agriculture, construction, or business planning, geo information has become a prerequisite in every field.

The future would be driven by seamless technological integration and convergence of different technologies that transcend the conventional silos and reimagines the old approach. GIS is at the heart of this transition and is both facilitating new developments and powering technologies.

“GIS is waking up the world to the power of geography, this science of integration, and has the framework for creating a better future”, Dangermond sagaciously remarked.

Dr. Roger Tomlinson is the man who is hailed as the ‘Father of GIS’.  He developed the first GIS in 1967 for the Canada Land Inventory and mentored the GIS fraternity for long. Dr. Tomlinson was also the first recipient of ‘Esri Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 1999. He was also inducted as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and received multiple honorary doctorates.

Nothing would more aptly summarize the vital importance of GIS than his own prophetic words:-

“When I think of all the major problems that we face throughout the world today—overpopulation, food shortages, reduced agricultural production, adverse climate change, poverty—these are all quintessentially geographic problems. These problems are all concerned with the human relationship to the land, and this is where GIS can make its biggest contribution. GIS is the technology of our times and is uniquely suited to assist in solving the problems that we face.”

-Dr. Roger F. Tomilson, Father of GIS

Also Read: Remembering the visionary ‘Father of GIS’ on GIS Day