Mexico: Roger F. Tomlinson, the ‘father of GIS’ is no more. An English geographer, Tomlinson was a central figure in the development of GIS. Tomlinson passed away in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on February 7, 2014.
Tomlinson was known as a visionary geographer who conceived and developed GIS for use by the Canada Land Inventory. His pioneering work, beginning in the early1960s, changed the face of geography as a discipline and he was awarded an Order of Canada, which is Canada’s highest civilian honour. Governments and scientists around the world have turned to him to better understand the environment and changing patterns of land use, and to better manage urban development and the use of natural resources.
Born in England in 1933, Roger Tomlinson made his name in the field of GIS in Canada having moved there in 1953. His early work in GIS paved the way for the increasingly widespread use of mapping and geospatial technologies in government agencies. Tomlison stated in an interview about those beginnings:
“The early days of GIS were very lonely. No-one knew what it meant. My work has certainly been missionary work of the hardest kind.”
Tomlinson was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his contributions to the GIS field. He was awarded the American Associations of Geographer’s James R. Anderson Medal of Honor for Applied Geography in 1995 and the Robert T. Aangeenbrug Distinguished Career Award in 2005. In 1997, he was awarded Esri’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2010, Tomlinson and Jack Dangermond were the joint recipients of the National Geographic Bell Medal.
His book, Thinking About GIS: Geographic Information System Planning for Managers, provides guidance for both senior managers responsible for a broad range of activities in their organisation and the more technical managers responsible for actual implementation of GIS. The 4th edition of this popular book was published in 2011.
Not much information is available about Roger Tomlinson’s passing at the moment. His wiki page has already been updated to reflect his death. The Twitterverse is only now starting to become aware of his passing, triggered by a tweet from Michael Gould, who was notified of his death by Esri founder, Jack Dangermond. Gould tweeted: “Yes, it’s true. It’s a very sad day for the GI community, that Roger Tomlinson, father of GIS, has died. (over the weekend).”