The Future of Web GIS – Dr. Pinde Fu, ESRI
What are some of the advances that we will see in Web GIS in
the next few years?
Dr. Fu: It is difficult to predict exactly where Web GIS will be in the
next few years, but past successes and lessons clearly point to the
• Open and easy geospatial web services will be widely adopted.
More organizations will contribute to and make use of the web
services ecosystem, on which the next generation of spatial
data infrastructure (SDI) will be built and where new, innovative
applications will thrive.
• Future web clients will deliver a much more expressive, intuitive,
fun, and fast-responding user experience than today’s web
clients, due to the advances in web browser technology, plug-in
technology, and computing power.
• Cloud-based GIS will become a primary way in which GIS is
delivered, though it’s not realistic to expect that all needed data,
maps, and functions will be available, particularly while there are
many security and privacy issues yet to resolve.
• Mobile devices will surpass desktops and notebooks as the
primary client platform for Web GIS. Expect to see an
expansion of location-based services for both corporations
During the past several years, I have worked on a number of GIS
applications in a variety of fields. Almost all my recent projects have
been web based, or at least have a Web GIS front end. Clearly, the
web is becoming central to GIS use and will be a dominant platform
in the future. Web GIS will be ubiquitously available on our
computers, smartphones, GPS navigators, and other personal
computing devices – anywhere, anytime. Web GIS is becoming an
indispensible part of many people’s lives, and it will eventually deliver
a truly societal GIS.