As mentioned earlier, the GIS industry has started to move into the mainstream IT community, enabling diverse and multidisciplinary usage of GIS data. GIS conferences, once attended mainly by technically skilled geo-geeks, have now begun to broaden focus to attract new and potential users of GIS data and applications. Wheredunit? Investigating the Role of Place in Crime and Criminality was the appropriate title of a recent conference in San Diego, introducing various groups to crime-mapping research, spatial analyses, and Internet applications, to name just a few of the topics.
Powered by back-end GIS technologies, the Internet promises to bring location-based services to people every day via wireless technologies. AOL's purchase of the aforementioned MapQuest, the Web application used to generate trip maps, may give rise to applications to help police officers home in on suspects on the fly, get ambulances or fire trucks to an accident more quickly, or help commuters get real-time traffic updates on their way to and from work. In future articles, I'll expand on the introductory concepts presented here by describing the development of some of these GIS tools and techniques used for problem-solving in various industries.