Redlands, California—Praising China for wholeheartedly embracing geographic information system (GIS) technology, ESRI president Jack Dangermond told university students and professors in Beijing yesterday that they’re helping turn GIS into one of the most important technologies of our time.
“GIS helps greatly in planning and decision making,” said Dangermond at Beijing Normal University, which bestowed upon him a visiting professorship during a two-day trip to the Chinese capital. “The technology provides the digital tools that abstract and organize geospatial data, model geographic processes, and visualize these data and models with advanced computer techniques. Your commitment toward and your academic initiatives with the technology will greatly benefit your nation in the future.”
Dangermond traveled to China to help launch GIS educational laboratories at two top universities: Beijing University and Beijing Normal University. The labs will use cutting-edge technologies provided by ESRI’s ArcGIS software that will help students learn how to use and apply GIS technology.
ESRI China (Beijing) Ltd. donated the software to the new ArcGIS Environmental & Remote Sensing Application Centre at Beijing Normal University and will offer training to the students. The distributor also will support the new ArcGIS Teaching & Application Research Centre at Beijing University.
“More professionals from academia to industry now understand the value of the visualization and analytical capabilities that GIS delivers, which helps them make more informed decisions in their research and operations,” said Francis Ho, president of ESRI China (Beijing).
“Geographic knowledge can help to organize a smooth and better development of the Chinese economy,” Ho said. “The Chinese GIS market is growing at an unprecedented rate, in pace with China’s remarkable economic developments.”
Dangermond met with academians and gave lectures at Beijing University, Beijing Normal University, and the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
Beijing Normal University named Dangermond a visiting professor, citing his longtime dedication to and evangelism in the field of GIS. Speaking there to more than 400 geography and GIS students and professors from Beijing Normal, Beijing, Qinghua, and other universities, Dangermond shared his vision of how emerging GIS markets and technologies will develop in the years ahead.
“More people are beginning to think about, manage, and solve problems spatially,” said Dangermond, who in 1969 founded Redlands, California-based ESRI, now the world’s leading GIS software company and the fifth largest privately held software firm.
“Technology trends have moved toward the integration of geospatial data into core business systems,” Dangermond said. “Web applications continue to quickly multiply, and more governments, organizations, and industries are adopting GIS enterprise-wide.”
Dangermond stressed that to better understand the complex, global issues that face society today, people need to take what he calls the “geographic approach.” “Geography, the science of our world, coupled with GIS, is helping us understand the Earth and apply geographic knowledge to a host of human activities,” Dangermond said.
GIS and the Internet will become inexorably entwined. “GIS technology is evolving on the Web, making geographic knowledge easier to access and more available,” said Dangermond. “As our planet becomes more wired or ‘connected,’ we will increasingly see new geographic information services and communities of users who incorporate these services into their daily decision making.”
Dangermond encouraged the students, many of whom want to become GIS professionals, to pursue a well-rounded education that includes learning GIS science, even if the technology and tools evoke a greater interest.
“GIS is an information system technology with geography at its core foundation,” said Dangermond, underscoring that understanding the science behind the technology will help the students thrive—whether they pursue GIS analysis, work with geodatabases, build new geospatial applications, or develop GIS software. “It’s the computer engineer who can think spatially who will advance the geospatial technology into the future,” Dangermond added.”This field needs very creative people.”
At Beijing Normal University, Dangermond attended the inauguration of the new ArcGIS Environmental & Remote Sensing Application Centre at the university’s Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science. Besides software and training, ESRI China (Beijing) will provide the lab with assistance on some projects.
Another ceremony marked the donation of ESRI software to the university. The donation includes two years of free maintenance and was made available through the China Educational GIS Grant Program.
Dangermond also spent several hours with officials from the Digital China Research Institute at Beijing University, where he helped inaugurate the ArcGIS Teaching & Application Research Centre.
He gave his lecture “GIS and the Geographic Approach” at both Beijing Normal University, where 3,000 students study geography and GIS, and the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the CAS.
“Mr. Dangermond’s visit to Beijing is warmly welcomed by those in Chinese academic and educational circles,” said Ho. “He is a legend in the areas of research and development of GIS. He has long been interested in a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with the Chinese GIS community and especially in educating the people in China for the nation’s future development with GIS technology.”