One of the most dominant trends to have emerged regarding access to computing resources, cloud computing and cloud-based platforms, have been game-changers. When it comes to making platforms and features available on the web which can be accessed from various locations, they leave no need for expensive licenses or open-source for desktops. Even though some have considered GIS as a discipline to be a late adopter of the cloud, the convergence of GIS technology with cloud computing has had a profound impact on GIS professionals being able to leverage spatial applications as well as information.
Talking about basic uses of GIS cloud computing, the primary focus is generally on storage, this implies that storing spatial data that can be accessed remotely and analysed using device software as a service, has become increasingly common and popular. An important core value proposition of leveraging cloud-based platforms is being able to take advantage of the economy of scale; via virtualisation, service providers can offer GIS features to hundreds and thousands of users with multiple uses leveraging the same kind of hardware and gaining access to open data sets for analysis on one platform.
Some key benefits of using spatial technology through cloud-based platforms include:
- Availability of information in the public domain, which is open to continuous updates and open access.
- Imbued with the ability to integrate latest databases, merging of disparate systems, exchanging of information both internally and externally, cloud-based platforms, can help in leveraging public cloud and sync field data along with the entire workflow process.
- Enabling shared resource pooling, cloud-based platforms are useful for communities and participating organisations who can come together with common or shared goals.
Cloud-based platforms offer an intuitive design, which can help even non-GIS professionals carry out basic spatial analysis, which can be useful when it comes to decision-making, planning and also emergencies, the Fire Service in Australia is a prime example of such use. This goes on to say that popularising spatial technology through cloud-based platforms, would end up providing solutions that are friendly, fast and also cost-efficient for all users.
Cloud computing technologies have brought forth a new information infrastructure for users and providing geoprocessing functions in cloud-based platforms has brought in possibilities of scalable, on-demand and cost-effective geoprocessing services for geospatial users. Developed in order to support shared network resources that can be provisioned between physical and virtual networks, cloud-based platforms can help developers in building and deploying custom applications. Ranging from APIs and tools to database and business process management systems, to security integration, cloud-based platforms, offer intuitive workflow for do-it-yourself analysis, with no need for specialised desktop software, thus, guaranteeing ease of access.
The convergence of GIS and cloud technology, has exciting promises to make. As mentioned earlier, apart from offering cost-effective infrastructure for using sophisticated GIS applications, it has also increased the potential power of mobile GIS, by elimination of dependency on desktops, which has been facilitated via computing resources being stored on the server and open to be accessed remotely. Today, barriers to accessing robust technology resources are becoming lower and lesser, this implies that organisations of all sizes and not just large government agencies or businesses will now be able to stretch their GIS technology budgets and provide GIS experts with far more tools to work with.
Authored by Amarsh Chaturvedi and originally published at https://www.dqindia.com/popularizing-spatial-technology-cloud-based-platforms/