Mobile Geographic Information Systems

Mobile Geographic Information Systems

Yang Li (University of East London, UK) and Allan J. Brimicombe (University of East London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2038-4.ch013
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Abstract

This chapter introduces the concept of Mobile Geographical Information Systems (Mobile GIS) as an evolution of conventional GIS to being available on wireless mobile devices such as smart phones. The evolution of the technology and its applications are charted in this chapter. The main elements of Mobile GIS are then discussed. This focuses on: GIS servers; wireless mobile telecommunication networks; wireless mobile devices; location-awareness technology; and gateway services. This is followed by a discussion of the main features in terms of the services and usage of Mobile GIS: mobility; real-time connectivity; location-awareness; broadened usage. Mobile Geographical Information Systems are an important facilitating technology for Location-Based Services (LBS). A range of applications of Mobile GIS for smart phones are described. The chapter closes with a discussion of the prospects and challenges for Mobile GIS. Challenges derive from four broad areas: limitations that derive from the technologies being used; areas of GIScience that still need to be adequately researched; users; and business models for a sustainable presence.
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From Conventional Geographic Information Systems (Gis) To Mobile Gis

In mid-1960s, with the prospect of handling and analysing spatial data digitally, the beginning of geographic information systems (GIS) had been explored in both professional and academic areas, as shown in the time line in Figure 1. In Canada, a prototype of GIS was started for the Canada Land Inventory which aimed to map existing land uses and analyse land capability for forestry, agriculture, wildlife and recreation (Tomlinson, 1984). The output of this early stage of GIS was regarded the cost-effective way for mapping the whole land area of Canada at the time. This system became fully operational in 1971. In 1964, in the Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis, Harvard Graduate School of Design, USA, the first digital mapping software, named SYMAP, was created in 1964. SYMAP used line printers to produce primitive maps to visualise landscape themes of human and physical phenomena for identifying spatial similarities and groupings (McHaffie, 2000). These maps were represented as coarse lines of equally spaced characters and symbols. Evolving from SYMAP, the GRID package with command-line user interface and ODYSSEY as a line-based (vector) prototype were developed as GIS software in the Laboratory in 1970s. Also in mid-1960s, the US Bureau of Census aimed to produce digital maps of street blocks and census tracts for supporting 1971 census. This introduced explicit topology into the data structure. These early developments set the foundation of GIS, such as raster (grid) and vector (line) data structures, the use of database management for spatial data, the use of data layers (treating each theme as a layer of data), and the use of topology in handling objects and their spatial relationships (topological relationships of points, lines and polygons).

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