The impact of webmapping on GIS software

Since the introduction of Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, A9 and other web mapping products earlier this year there has been a great deal of discussion about the effect these software packages will have on the GIS industry. Will these products kill GIS, improve GIS, or have no impacct at all on GIS software. Find out more after the jump.

Since the introduction of the latest and greatest web mapping applications earlier this year the GIS industry has been nervously trying to figure out what impact this will have on the bottom line. Speculation on the impact ranges from no impact, to enhancing of GIS systems, to kills GIS developers almost completely. Weighing into the discussion is a well thought out article in Directions Magazine that provides a sound discussion of possible impacts as well as philosophical issues on the GIS and Webmapping debate.

One of the impacts forseen in the article is increased data sharing. While many different groups have attempted to foster data sharing standards, Google and others may have hit upon a new method using the Keyhole Markup Language. Although there are still problems with uploading and finding data it is a step in the right direction according to the article.

A second issue raised in the article is whether these new applications are about mapping or GIS. While sounding a little like a philosophical discussion this is actually a hugely important issue. If these applications are simply about mapping then the user base will remain fairly unsophisticated and GIS should be fairly safe as an advanced software platform. However, if these web mapping applications become more advanced then simply "doing mapping" then GIS may have to worry.

Finally, the article mentions that if Government starts to switch to these applications then GIS may have to change or lose out.

Overall, the article is one of the best I have read in terms of thinking about the impact of these new applications upon the GIS industry. This is one of those issues that only time will settle, but it is definitely an issue that has the GIS industry nervous.