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It’s both. The proliferation of data requires tools that can handle the volume, variety, and velocity of big data. However, the role of the GIS Analyst is also evolving into a “geospatial data scientist” who can support broader enterprise analytics requirements in addition to the traditional analysis and “mapmaking.” Younger “digital natives” are accustomed to using a variety of tools to get jobs done and use scripting languages such as Python to automate work flows and access data from online sources. As the use of GIS increases on the “front lines” or organizations with non-technical users, web mapping systems supported by GIS Analysts will expand the skills required as well as the tools to deploy these systems. The good news is that more people in the organization will become “self serve” and GIS Analysts will have more time to focus on specialized or advanced projects that make them happy, versus making simple maps for others.
Like every technology, there are specific skills needed to run the GIS “tool”; but a critical skill is in translating a spatial question into a spatial “query” that the tool understands. "Spatial thinking" is an acquired skill.
@Jim Stone? yes...the 3 V's of big data...I like the "little V's" of big data ... Veracity and Variability
Great point, Joe.
Today, everyone believes they are a “GIS” expert due to the availability of disparate mapping applications. Functionality is limited depending upon what they are utilizing but maps and spatial data are a part of everyone’s lives now (I.e. navigation systems). As accessibility to these applications continue to expand, it’s important to identify the business needs that are driving the use of them and what tasks they are looking to perform. The integration of web services, web mapping, and business intelligence services are driving the evolution of skills required in today’s organizations.
Good points, guys.
At least it's important to "get" the concept of spatial.
Of course some tools that makes it easier to work with spatial data and in some level also limit what you can do, makes it possible to get things done without having a university degree in geography.
I think we’ve seen the industry change over recent years, driven by new technologies, but also a new breed of GIS experts. The change has meant less of the traditional GIS expert and more GIS developer.
@Jim Stone? your mention of python is something I am seeing as well. I see senior GIS analysts growing into Spatial Data Scientists by adding Python and SQL skills to their skill set. In the future I see python and SQL as mandatory rather than optional skills for a GIS analyst.
@Colin Mattison? and @Andy d'Andilly? interesting - works both ways in that GIS guys need to adapt too.
@Colin Mattison?, hard to imaging GIS without SQL, but maybe that's just me