Geographic information science

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Geographic information science or geographical information science (GIScience or GISc) is the scientific discipline that studies the techniques to capture, represent, process, and analyze geographic information. It can be contrasted with geographic information systems (GIS), which are software tools.

British geographer Michael Goodchild defined this area in the 1990s and summarized its core interests, including spatial analysis, visualization, and the representation of uncertainty.[1] GIScience is conceptually related to geography, information science, computer science, but it claims the status of an independent scientific discipline.[2] Other overlapping disciplines are: geocomputation, geoinformatics, geomatics and geovisualization. More recent related terms are geographic data science (named after data science)[3][4] and geographic information science and technology (GISci&T).[5]


Since its inception in the 1990s, the boundaries between GIScience and cognate disciplines are contested, and different communities might disagree on what GIScience is and what it studies. In particular, Goodchild stated that "information science can be defined as the systematic study according to scientific principles of the nature and properties of information. Geographic information science is the subset of information science that is about geographic information."[6] Another influential definition is that by GIScientist David Mark, which states:

Geographic Information Science (GIScience) is the basic research field that seeks to redefine geographic concepts and their use in the context of geographic information systems. GIScience also examines the impacts of GIS on individuals and society, and the influences of society on GIS. GIScience re-examines some of the most fundamental themes in traditional spatially oriented fields such as geography, cartography, and geodesy, while incorporating more recent developments in cognitive and information science. It also overlaps with and draws from more specialized research fields such as computer science, statistics, mathematics, and psychology, and contributes to progress in those fields. It supports research in political science and anthropology, and draws on those fields in studies of geographic information and society.[7]

In 2009, Goodchild summarized the history of GIScience and its achievements and open challenges.[8]

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  1. ^ Goodchild, Michael F. (2010-07-27). "Twenty years of progress: GIScience in 2010 | Goodchild | Journal of Spatial Information Science". Journal of Spatial Information Science. 2010 (1): 3–20. doi:10.5311/josis.2010.1.2. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  2. ^ Duckham, Matt; Goodchild, Michael F.; Worboys, Michael (2004-11-23). Foundations of Geographic Information Science. CRC Press. ISBN 9780203009543.
  3. ^ Singleton, Alex; Arribas‐Bel, Daniel (2019). "Geographic Data Science". Geographical Analysis. doi:10.1111/gean.12194. ISSN 0016-7363.
  4. ^ Andrienko, Gennady; Andrienko, Natalia; Weibel, Robert (2017). "Geographic Data Science" (PDF). IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications. 37 (5): 15–17. doi:10.1109/MCG.2017.3621219. ISSN 0272-1716.
  5. ^ Unwin, David J.; Foote, Kenneth E.; Tate, Nicholas J.; DiBiase, David, eds. (2011-12-16). Teaching Geographic Information Science and Technology in Higher Education. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. doi:10.1002/9781119950592. ISBN 978-1-119-95059-2.
  6. ^ Goodchild, Michael (1992). "Geographical information science". International Journal of Geographical Information Systems. 6 (1): 31–45. doi:10.1080/02693799208901893.
  7. ^ Duckham, Matt; Goodchild, Michael F.; Worboys, Michael (2004-11-23). Foundations of Geographic Information Science. CRC Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780203009543.
  8. ^ Goodchild, Michael F. (2009). "Geographic information systems and science: today and tomorrow". Annals of GIS. 15 (1): 3–9. doi:10.1080/19475680903250715. ISSN 1947-5683. S2CID 13308017.

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