GeoWorld November 2012

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Communications and two-thirds to Institutional Infrastructure), a weighting of 0.2 for Web Content and Use (a half each) and a weighting of 0.6 for Impact (Social, Economic and Political each receiving equal weights of one third). The seven parts of the Web Index and the sources of information were presented as a tree diagram (http://thewebindex. org/data/all/tree-diagram). Different weights would obviously change the results. This problem is similar to that faced by Ian McHarg, often considered one of the fathers of GIS, when he developed his overlay method for determining the best alignment for a transportation route that would minimize social and physical environmental impacts (see his iconic book, Design with Nature). This methodology later was adopted in GIS studies that also sought to minimize the environmental impact in creating utilities' transportation routes. The solution to the problem of choosing variables and applying weights was to do what McHarg did (Waters, 2002) and what the authors of this Web Index did: consult the experts for answers. The effect of different weighting systems is described in the report, and the Web Index appears robust to various weighting schemes. Figure 2. Countries with the highest and lowest scores on the Web Index are listed (thewebindex. org/2012/09/2012-Web-Index-Key-Findings.pdf). political activism in the former country and the limited political freedom in the latter. Indeed, political restrictions on access to the Internet are a major reason for low scores throughout the 61 countries. A rank correlation of 0.92 and an ordinary leastsquares regression reveal a strong, positive relationship between GDP per capita and a high score on the Web Index. However, the relationship isn't linear, so after a per capita GDP of about $20,000, increases in Web Index scores become more dependent on the political will to allow access to the Web and create Web content. Who Was First and Last? A GIS Index Is Needed All the individual variables were normalized, and their standardized scores were clustered together into seven components presented on a scale from 1 to 100, using a visualization device shown in Figure 1 (for the United States). Figure 2 shows the countries that were in the top and bottom 10, and it shows the highest and lowest-scoring country in each region. Sweden, the United States, the UK and Canada take the first four places, respectively. A GIS Index also might include these nations in the top four. The United States would probably be No. 1 because of Esri's influence on the industry as well as the impact on academia of the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis and other organizations such as the University Consortium on Geographic Information Science. The UK would be there due to the influence of Ordnance Survey on making digital maps available to the general public and industry. The UK's Regional Research Laboratories also are important for their influence on academia. Sweden was one of the first countries developing land information systems and digital road data banks, and Canada is acknowledged as developing the first GIS, the Canada Geographic Information System. Each of the four countries benefitted from their own pioneering innovations. Africa lags all the other regions on the overall impact of the Web, but, within Africa, Tunisia is a leader, and Zimbabwe has the lowest score, perhaps reflecting the In the report, Tim Berners-Lee, widely regarded as the father of the Web, argues that access to the Web—being part of the information society—is "as important as access to water and vaccinations." I'll argue that access to spatial information is a major reason that this is true, and that's why we need a GIS Index. In addition, the next calculation of the Web Index itself should incorporate two new, important components: 1. Access to spatial information through such products as Google Maps, Wikimapia and smartphone map apps. 2. The extent to which Geographic Information Science is taught throughout the educational system. When asked to comment on the value of the index, Jeff Jaffe, the non-executive director of the World Wide Web, opined: "When you consider the criticality of the Web … it's maddening that no one ever thought to [calculate a Web Index] before." I would argue that this is true for a GIS Index. Government Special Issue References Waters, N. 2002. "Modeling the Environment with GIS: A Historical Perspective from Geography," Geographic Information Systems and Environmental Modeling; edited by K.C. Clarke, B.O. Parks and M.P. Crane; pages 1-35; Prentice-Hall; Upper Saddle River, N.J. N O V E M B E R 2 O 1 2 / W W W . G E O P L A C E . C O M 13

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