Some years ago, probably ten years, the use and understanding of GIS was only for the few who had the skills and had interacted with this technology in various sectors. This was attributed to the fact that acquisition of systems, provision of services, industrial uptake for GIS and skills to operate these systems were limited and couldn’t span wider sectors but only left to governments, NGOs and other big organizations.
By this time, Desktop GIS were the most utilized forms of technology (in Geospatial) and thus data sharing and integration was not easily possible leaving companies to be the custodians of their analyzed data and could be stored in large data stores or cabinets for future use. This crippled the possibility for widespread of GIS to other sectors such as business, infrastructure and private organization that couldn’t foot the huge bills relating to GIS.
Today, with the emergence and growth of cloud computing, there has been great evident milestones in this field with numerous data sharing and analyses platforms emerging everyday or perhaps every now and then. The flexibility being offered by software vendors to provide Internet based services has led to more GIS users taking advantage of this and also the numbers of GIS users has tremendously increased. Delivery of services in flexible forms such as free access or subscription basis makes it easier for the population to utilize the available functionality and perform tasks on time.
GIS as a service is categorized into three categories Software as a Service(SaaS), Data as a Service(DaaS) & Platform as a Service(PaaS). These categories complement each other in terms of execution and ensure a robust and flexibility of systems. The benefits of GIS as a Service can be discussed in forms of:
Data Sharing – Today, projects are carried out concurrently and being monitored from a central office with large streams of datasets being exchanged in seconds. This is how these services have made our world a better place to be.
Widespread of GIS – The number of users in GIS today has tripled (approximate) compared to ten years ago due to the fact that these services can be accessed on almost all devices, efficiently and on timely basis.
Flexibility – With the rise of many platforms and systems in this sector, there exist choices to choose from compared to earlier days. Many software for desktop, Mobile and web exist today. Can either be paid for or free.
Cheaper services (Cost reduction) – Competition has enabled the industry to be flexible and services have become cheaper that eliminating the issue of huge costs on system acquisition. Also, without servers or software on your nodes, one can still conduct GIS tasks easily.
Simplicity of GIS – In earlier days, a few people could operate a GIS due to its complexity and resource extensive needs that it required. This complexity in GIS has really reduced leading to more people joining the users list and use it widely across different works.
The move of GIS to the cloud has really revolutionized this industry and still continues to grow.With the growth of other technologies such as Internet of Things, Machine Learning and Big data, the growth of GIS on the cloud has a bright future. This is very evident today in terms of usage where GIS is being used in nearly all sectors of operations globally. From business analytic, population management, Catastrophe prediction and many more, GIS still remains a key tool to solve puzzles that might seem difficult to understand in a layman world.
Developing a functional Web GIS is being achieved by spending few minutes online and clicking a few tools and buttons to create this system for you. Some online systems require little-to-no programming skills to do this. How cool is this? Very cool!!
Developing an application that require huge datasets for display, but utilizing the extensive datasets on Google servers or even OSM. Very cool!!
Going out into the fields to collect data, cleaning the data and creating a map story with the data on ArcGIS Online and sharing the url with you friends oversees or in another county? Very Cool!!
Accessing all the functionality of desktop GIS on an online portal. A huge milestone. Cool!!
In a nutshell, its been a few years of awesomeness in the Geospatial industry and the sparkle continues to greater and better targets in future. Today, there is not a single reason not to be a master in any sector in matters Geo. The journey started and we still walking this journey. The future is bright.
What are your thoughts on this? Let’s have a discussion today. Leave a comment below!!