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Putting the Geographic in GIS

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Geography-related scholarship has had a long, evolving, and at times controversial, history at Harvard University. The current presence of geography is largely through its Center for Geographic Analysis, a small and ten-year young service center with a mission to support research and teaching with geographic analysis across the university. In doing so, the Center pushes the envelope of the established geospatial technologies and dabbles into applied research of GIScience, including spatiotemporal analysis, big data analysis, and collaborative mapping platform development. The unique interaction with multiple disciplines at the Center also provides a special angle into examining the relationship between geography, GIScience and GISystem.

This talk will give a brief overview of the history and current status of geographic analysis at Harvard, leading into a discussion with the audience on the relationship between geography and GISystem. The key questions to explore are:

  1. Which disciplines contributed most to the advancement of GIS, and which disciplines benefited most from it?
  2. Should the rich geographic knowledge become an integral component of a GIS?
  3. What are the challenges in doing so (such as modeling fuzzy and uncertain geographic objects, incorporating time into coordinate systems, building spatial ontologies)?

In summary, what GIS needs from geography, or in other words, what geography can contribute to GIS?

Publication Date  November, 2016
Author(s)  Wendy Guan
Geography Awareness Week by the Geography Graduate Student Association (GGSA) of the University at Buffalo
Publication type  Presentations