GIS: An invisible evolution

Within the next five years, geographic information systems will no longer

be considered a separate entity, but will instead be just another part of

the overall information technology infrastructure, according to David Sonnen,

senior consultant for spatial data management at IDC Research.

Driving that is the move by major database vendors to incorporate spatial

data into the data types handled by their products.

"That's the major trend now," he said. "Oracle has managed to do that

almost completely, and other companies such as IBM and Informix are well

on the way to doing the same. Eventually, Microsoft will also enable its

SQL Server to handle GIS data."

Beyond that, companies are working to include spatial intelligence into

their knowledge management and business intelligence solutions. And the

even newer providers of Web services are rushing to include location-based

capabilities in their offerings.

"In the future, the ability to handle spatial information as a part

of the IT infrastructure will be the basis of an organizing principle for

all kinds of data," he said. "It will enable powerful tools for homeland

security, organizing corporate data and so on."

Then people will no longer buy GIS solutions as such, he said. Instead,

they'll buy their regular Oracle Corp. or Informix software database products

with geospatial functions included "and GIS will become invisible."

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached

at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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