Although designed primarily for desktop mapping and analysis, Geographic Information Systems have, for some years, been ‘coupled’ to other ‘allied’ technologies. This coupling or integration has occurred for some time due to the limitations in commercially available systems. It has occurred in several areas including visualisation (virtual reality), simulation (pedestrian, urban modelling), data storage and management (distributed or Internet GIS) and decision support. The chapters of the book, written by an international group of experts examine several of these discrete areas, focussing on the use of GIS and the technology it has been allied to.
Emerging from the collective experiences of millions of people who rely on geospatial information and technology everyday, knowingly or not, are many challenges and issues for the community of GIScience and GeoComputation researchers. There are enough problems to go around and, thankfully, there are also enough intelligent people around (or in training) to solve the issue and challenges that we face as a society in our quest to make decisions better, understanding deeper, profits greater, and our environment more sustainable. Jayant and Sanjay have assembled an astounding array of knowledgeable authors to present the broad frontier of geographic information technology that is emerging to address these many issues and challenges. They have correctly identified that the current state of geographic information technology consists of geographic information (GI), GI hardware, and GI software and that the current state has been heavily influenced by the IT industry and by the needs of society over time. This is as it should be. In fact, while reading the chapters of this book, I suggest that you keep a mental map of the relationship of the topics being discussed with this “data, hardware, software” classification and with the additional classification of technologies into those of data collection and handling (to include information creation and management), analysis (to include modeling, simulation, and knowledge generation and synthesis), and visualization (to include all forms of presentation with the goal of understanding). This helped me to organize my thoughts and to make the book a truly exciting reading experience.