Geo-analytics or GIS?

World Map
Image by digital designer from Pixabay

We at Teragence do not use the term GIS, but talk about “geo-analytics”. It is a term that we have developed internally because we feel it better captures some of the methods and tools we use.

To be clear, we use tools that are commonly described as “GIS” (“Geographic Information System”) – in our case our favourite tool is QGIS (https://qgis.org/en/site/) , an open-source tool which I describe as “MS Access for geographic information” (but that is a subject for a different blog post).

So why don’t we call a spade a spade and talk about GIS. Well, GIS is not a new term and GIS platforms and specialists have been around for a long time. And this is where the catch is: because it has been around for a long time, it has been used in industries that relied heavily on geographic information: industries such as utilities, forestry, agriculture, etc…These industries are not necessarily seen as the most interesting and dynamic and within those organisations the “mapping department” was not immediately seen as the most exciting – probably slightly above the attraction of company librarian.  One of the drivers of that perception was probably also the fact that geographic information was seen as something static an relatively unchanging (rocks, trees, rivers, buildings, roads,.etc…)

Contrast this with the field of analytics which was and is seen as interesting, rapidly evolving and teasing out previously unseen information about the world.

But we believe that geographic information is not only about static elements. There is a whole dynamic dimension as well and we can combine the tools and techniques from the analytics world in a geographic context (leveraging the capabilities of tools like QGIS) to extract new and exciting insights. And the latest generation of tools and libraries allow for levels of creativity and innovation previously unseen.

We are a long way of the static map making and recording roots of GIS. Instead I am time and time again amazed and humbled by the creativity and flexibility of our team geo-analysts to combine, filter and analyse diverse geo-datasets to create advanced and actionable insights. So  “GIS is dead, Long Live Geo-Analytics”!

Christian Rouffaert

Christian Rouffaert is the CEO of Teragence. You can here more about his views on GIS vs geo-analytics (and other topics) on the geomob podcast: https://thegeomob.com/podcast/episode-95.

Published on September 26, 2022