GeoWorld December 2011

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Has Anyone Heard of this Cloud Thing? POSITION W BY TODD DANIELSON ith the economic outlook of the geotechnology industry on the upswing (but still difficult), I thought it was appropriate to have our esteemed Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) provide their thoughts on where the best employment opportunities could be found in the upcoming year. It seems like companies in our industry finally are hiring, and I wanted our readers to have a better understanding of the education and experience they need to find themselves "employable" in 2012 and beyond. So I made that a mandatory question to answer and the focus of our important "Industry Outlook" feature, which you can find starting on page 14. I then asked our board to choose from a variety of pos- sible questions for a second response, but based on what I received, I should've just made the question on cloud comput- ing mandatory as well, as almost every member of our board responded with conviction on that topic. All Cloud, All the Time I had intended the "cloud question" to be secondary, as this magazine covered it extensively in our September 2011 issue. I even wrote about it in my column that month, so you can read "Will 'The Cloud' Cover Everything?" (GeoWorld, September 2011, page 4) and several of the features in that issue for additional information. But it appears that one issue wasn't Todd Danielson is editor of GeoWorld magazine, PO Box 773498, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477; e-mail: 4 GEO W ORLD / DECEMBE R 2O11 enough for what has to be considered "The Hot Topic" for 2011. If several of the most important players in geo- technology, such as those on our EAB, insist on talking about it at length, I'm not going to argue with them. "Cloud computing provides the potential for access to and publication of dynamic data," says Jack Dangermond, president and founder of Esri. "This includes the consumption of real-time information for analyses and modeling, which then can be leveraged in applica- tions that serve multiple purposes and audiences, meeting potentially high- volume traffic over a ubiquitous and scalable architecture." Another good summary of The Cloud's importance was provide by Chuck Drinnan, the principal at eWAM Associates. "Of the many applications considering cloud-based implementa- tions, GIS is an almost perfect fit. GIS requires a massive amount of data—where better to store it than on the cloud? Most GIS applications want widespread dissemination of their applications with security and access control—what better medium than the cloud?" But What about the Jobs? Just because my original query turned out to be somewhat secondary doesn't mean it lacks importance. I still think it was crucial to ask these industry lead- ers how to be best prepared for employ- ment in a constantly changing field. An excellent summary was pro- vided by Ron Lake, the CEO of Galdos Systems Inc. "Traditional GIS applica- tions will continue, but I expect these to be impacted by broader information requirements, rather than the special- ized needs of 'GIS professionals.' Those that can combine general information-management skills (e.g., information modeling, database design, user-interface design) with some knowledge of spatial data types will have a greater chance of finding work than the GIS specialist." Peter Batty, the founder and vice president of Geospatial Technology at Ubisense, provided some similar advice, noting that general "GIS" labels no longer are sufficient. "Don't just focus on the geospatial side of things; become an expert in something else, too, and you will be much more market- able. Be an expert in some aspect of electrical engineering or environmental planning or marketing, and learn how to apply geospatial technology in innova- tive ways in your field."

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