Monday, March 03, 2014

Canadian Tech Pioneer and Father of GIS, Roger Tomlinson

This post is overdue in acknowledging the death of Roger Tomlinson. The "father of GIS" (geographic information systems) passed away February 7. Esri Canada posted an obituary that highlights Tomlinson's incredible accomplishments:
Dr. Tomlinson invented the first computerized GIS back in the ‘60s, when he developed the Canada Geographic Information System for use by the Canada Land Inventory.

Thanks to his innovation, we can now easily overlay unlimited amounts of data on dynamic, digital maps and analyze information in numerous ways previously not possible. From climate change, overpopulation, poverty, disease outbreaks and flooding, to managing power outages, emergencies and optimizing site selection, GIS is being used today in various industries to help solve virtually any location-based problem.
Dr. Tomlinson’s invention of GIS led to the development of today’s computerized mapping technology, digitizing tables and global positioning systems. As well, his work advanced mapping as a profession and established a thriving industry that employs thousands worldwide....

For a fuller story on Tomlinson's pioneering work with GIS and digital mapping as well as an overview of his life, read Globe and Mail's obituary or view a 1967 National Film Board documentary film on his work.

As my career becomes increasingly focused on geoinformatics, I, like very many others, owe a great debt to Tomlinson's contributions. As a Canadian, I'm inspired by work Tomlinson did in Canada not only in establishing a tech industry, but also for helping make geographic information accessible and useful in the lives of people worldwide.

No comments: