Research universities create mountains of data, and more and more, that data is tethered to a place in the world. The world is, after all, spatial–and information is not an island.
The technology and field behind that spatial data are called Geographical Information Sciences (GIS). The University of Minnesota has embarked on a visionary endeavor, called U-Spatial, to develop a network to support spatial research across the University, in fields ranging from nursing to watershed restoration. By using expert consultants and providing training and support in spatial research, U-Spatial is making research more meaningful and usable to researchers and society. It’s also reducing redundancy in support for spatial science research.
A leader in GIS
For more than 50 years, the University of Minnesota has been a national and international leader in spatial research. The U helped create one of the first geographic information systems in the 1960s, and offered the first professional degree program in GIS in the United States. As the world makes the “spatial turn,” as some have called the GIS revolution, the U is the place to be.
More than Google Maps
GIS is growing, and it will play an ever-increasing role in the future. If you’ve used Google Maps, you’ve used an element of GIS, but it is much more than this. Society uses spatial data, for example, in responding to disease outbreaks or climate change, and in resource management, transportation, and more. The U.S. Department of Labor identifies spatial technology alongside nanotechnology and biotechnology as high growth industries in the 21st century.