GIS Technology Use Expected to Increase

Study shows spending on GIS tools could reach $3.7 billion by 2017

Findings from Pike Research indicate that spending on geographic information systems (GIS) services, software and tools will increase steadily over the next five years, reaching $3.7 billion in 2017.

“2012 is the year of GIS,” says Dr. Stephen McElroy, GIS program chair at American Sentinel University. “The desire to know where everything is located fuels the current trend in location-based services. As GIS is more accessible and consumable on the Web through a variety of mobile devices, the average person is becoming increasingly impacted by the power of GIS. Soon it will become a pervasive technology that is consumed by a wider audience than ever before.”

This industry momentum toward GIS is what led to K-12 schools in North Carolina to sign a statewide license for unlimited classroom use of Esri’s ArcGIS software.

According to Dr. McElroy, K-12 educators are increasingly aware that geospatial competencies must now be included among the core proficiencies of reading, writing and arithmetic. He points out that some schools are undertaking initiatives to incorporate geospatial competencies across the curriculum by adding geospatial exercises and experiences into the standard curriculum. The concept of GIS across the curriculum is a trend that is just now beginning to blossom and illustrates the long-term presence of geospatial thinking at the national, state and local levels.

To demonstrate just how important GIS is to the U.S. government, Esri recently released a new book, Mapping the Nation: Government and Technology Making a Difference.  It includes more than 100 full-color maps produced by 40 government agencies, showing how GIS technology can be used to evaluate and respond to social, economic and environmental concerns at local, regional, national and global levels.

“Geography is a common denominator in everything the federal government supports,” says Christopher Thomas, director, government markets —federal, state, local at Esri. “The maps in this book attest to the limitless power of geography and GIS technology. They show how government agencies rely on GIS analysis to facilitate initiatives, improve transparency and deliver strong business models.”

According to the Pike report, spatial data underlies everything an electric utility does. An intelligent power grid requires deep situational awareness of power generation, transmission, distribution and customer assets in order to optimize performance and to meet reliability commitments.

Land-based and street-level data, ownership/real estate, vegetation, network topology, GPS location data, census data and many other forms of geospatial information are critical to the successful performance of the smart grid.

GIS is a foundational technology linking every activity of an electric utility—including design and construction, asset management, workforce management, outage management and increasingly, real-time grid operations.

“The smart grid has energized electric utilities to think creatively about how to improve the delivery of electrical power and the business and workflow processes that enable it,” says Pike Research Vice President Bob Gohn. “As the deployment of intelligent field equipment, particularly advanced metering infrastructure, has surged, the applications leveraging this infrastructure are increasingly dependent on GIS-based data for critical real-time performance.”

Public and private utility providers will need a comprehensive GIS that they can utilize to make key decisions about system-critical issues such as customer database management, streamlined meter reading and blending of renewable (solar, wind, hydro and geothermal) and non-renewable energy resources from coal and nuclear facilities.

“These industries are looking for people who understand GIS technology, making it an excellent time to make yourself more marketable and consider an online bachelor’s or master’s degree in GIS technology,” says Dr. McElroy.

The market for GIS professionals at all skill levels has never been better.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the job outlook (2010-2020) for geographers is growing by 35%. For Cartographers and photogrammetrists, the outlook is 22% growth. For surveying and mapping technicians, the outlook is 16% and all of these occupations are expected to grow by 14%.

American Sentinel University

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