New Developments in GIS

            Any changes in the GIS field are based on advancements made in computers, electronic hardware, high speed connections (wireless or wired), and increased intricacy in GIS software and users. Global Navigating Satellite System (GNSS) will change with improved GNSS-receivers, miniaturization of GNSS technology, and system integration.

            GNSS receivers will continue to decrease in price, shrink in size, and increase accuracy, making the technology more appealing to use.  Chip GNSS systems have been getting smaller, some are smaller than the size of a single postage stamp.  These small devices will be able to be easily incorporated into electronic devices such as wrist-watches, allowing outdoor enthusiasts (hikers, runners, and bicyclists) to monitor their location, speed, route, and log miles travelled.  GNSS miniaturization allows the ability to collect more data in the field than in the past.  New systems will add functions to GNSS such as the ability to take photos or videos of a feature, this could allow companies (i.e. utility companies) to easily identify a problem and identify the tools and/or parts that are needed to correct the problem.

            Continents are moving around the Earth on tectonic plates, sometimes at rates of an inch per year (or faster!)  This movement leads to the changes of relative positions over several decades.  Geodesists (a scientist or a technician who engages in inquiry or applies research in the field of geodesy (Bolstad)) must factor in the movements to improve datums (NAD83 and ITRF).  NAD83 is a datum used mostly in North America while ITRF is a datum used by the rest of the world.  Both these datums are Earth-centered systems based on the coordinate location of points and their velocities. 

            Improved remote sensing includes more satellites, higher spatial and temporal resolution, improved digital cameras, and new sensor platforms (Bolstad).  The Pleiades system is an example of this trend of improvements; these two satellites provide daily panchromatic and multispectral imaging.  Aerial cameras are also improving in spatial resolution with higher radiometric sensitivity.  These higher spatial resolutions will aid in many new accomplishments; detailed land surveys, property and asset management, business intelligence, strategic planning, and much more.




Bolstad, Paul. (2012).  GIS Fundamentals:  A First Text on Geographic Information Systems.  White Bear Lake, MN:  Eider Press.


Another Introduction to GIS

There are several definitions used while explaining geographic information systems (GIS).  One of the most popular definitions for GIS is “a computer-based system to aid in the collection, maintenance, storage, analysis, output, and distribution of spatial data and information. (Bolstad)”  GIS helps us gather and use spatial data;  it is concerned with absolute and relative location of features (the where) and it’s concerned with properties and attributes of those features (the what).

GIS quantifies locations by recording their coordinate positions on Earth (latitude/longitude).  GIS tools are essential in business, government, education, and non-profit organizations (Bolstad).  It helps us identify and address environmental problems by providing information on where the problems occur and who are affected by them.  Using GIS we are able to identify the source, location, and extent of environmental impacts.

Advances in three key technologies have helped aid in the development of GIS; imaging, GNSS, and computing.  Cameras these days provide detailed aerial and satellite images, images can be easily converted to accurate spatial information over broad areas.  Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) is a positioning technology that’s now incorporated in cars, planes, boats, and trucks. Powerful field computers are now lighter, faster, more capable, and less expensive, allowing spatial data display and analysis capabilities to always be at hand.

Geographic information science (GISci) includes the technical aspects of GIS as well as seeks to redefine concepts in geography in the context of the digital age, making GIS dependent on GISci.  GISci not only investigates technical questions but also explores more basic questions, such as, “How might we best represent spatial concepts? (Bolstad)”





Bolstad, Paul. (2012).  GIS Fundamentals:  A First Text on Geographic Information Systems.  White Bear Lake, MN:  Eider Press.

CyberGIS Center

Dr. Dan Goldberg has won a CyberGIS Fellowship from the NSF-Funded CyberGIS Project!

CyberGIS Center

Congratulations Dan, this is fantastic news!


CyberGIS Fellows program supports the development of cyberGIS education materials and curricula.

CyberGIS has emerged during the past several years as a vibrant interdisciplinary field impacting scientific domains and research areas.

The Value of Geocoding in Business

Spatial location analysis is a vital to running a successful business. In recent years, geocoding has become an increasingly essential tool that businesses worldwide have utilized in numerous ways to increase profits, efficiencies, and customer satisfaction.

Geocoding has become an invaluable asset when reaching potential customers through search tools. These include mobile phone applications and web services that allow you to target certain businesses you are interested in within a specified area. An example of this could be looking for a local restaurant serving a particular food you are wishing to eat. You can utilize Google Maps or many other search guides and then specify which type of food you are wanting, and it will display nearby restaurants meeting the requirements you have given. This process benefits businesses substantially by attracting potential customers that may have not otherwise been familiar with their business or had failed to recognize they were in the area.

Geocoding can also assist businesses in determining logistical strategies to increase their growth and profit. Often businesses use locational information from their customers in order to determine where it would be most profitable to construct a new office or store by using geocoded addresses to create maps and visually analyze where customers are clustered. This strategy can also be used to study the demographics of different regions to approach how to target them all differently. It is important that the coordinates these businesses use in order to visually analyze data is accurate, which is why geocoding is a necessary tool when doing so. Having this knowledge also allows for businesses to market in the most effective areas, charge for its products more efficiently, and determines where new stores should be located to ensure the greatest customer traffic.

Finally, geocoding is a critical component for businesses that have delivery services. A good business realizes that to obtain appreciable customer satisfaction, it must uphold its promised delivery dates and times. The latitude and longitude coordinates received from geocoding an address lets the business conveniently plot where they must deliver, and analyze the most efficient travel route in order to get to their destination. In the end, this saves time and money for both the business and the satisfied customer is receiving their goods in a timely manner as promised.

Reference: Walker, Bud, and Abby Telleria. “A Web Shoe-In: Geocoding as a Store Locator.” Why Geocoding Is Critical for Businesses. Melissa Data Corporation, n.d. Web. 05 Aug. 2014.

Geocoding Accuracy of the TAMU Geoservices Geocoder


Our Texas A&M Geoservices geocoder takes postal addresses you submit and provides you with approximate latitude and longitude output data for those addresses. You may notice that sometimes certain output coordinates are more accurate than others, and the quality of the returned output data can be attributed to our weighting system for geocoding accuracy.

Texas A&M Geoservices utilizes reference databases including a Boundary Solutions Parcel File (2012) and TIGER Files (2010) in order to geocode your data.

Our parcel data contains information at the building level, sometimes referred to as rooftop resolution. This is the data everyone would love to have. Currently we have approximately 30% coverage of the US in this format. Unfortunately, this data is very expensive and would raise the cost of our service significantly to purchase more coverage. We continually strive to update our data in house in an effort to bring you better results while maintaining our low prices.

Tigerfiles are publically available data from the US Census Bureau. If your address is not contained in our parcel data we implement a range of interpretive algorithms created by Dr. Daniel Goldberg to arrive at the closest approximation based on data contained in the Tiger data files. These algorithms utilize a dynamic weighting technique to approximate the most accurate match to the given address. This can range from a street level interpolation to zipcode, city, or state centroid. Street level interpolation is the method of matching to a street and specific block within that street and then calculating the most likely location on the street based on the range of numbers for that block. Centroid methods are just as the name implies, when a street segment is not found the resulting data will be matched to the nearest point such as the center of a zipcode, city or state depending on the data available.

Our geocoder will give you back a quality match type for your data as outlined below.

Exact parcel centroid= an exact match was found to a parcel and its centroid is returned as output

Nearest parcel Centroid= a match was found to the nearest parcel and its centroid returned as output

Uniform lot interpolation= a match was found to the street segment and the number of lots on the segment was used to interpolate a point to return as output

Address Rang Interpolation= A match was found to the street segment and an address range associated  with the segment was used to interpolate a point to return as output

ZCTA centroid= a match was found to the city portion of the address and its centroid was returned as output

City Centroid= A match was found to the city portion of the address and its centroid was returned as output

County Subregion centroid= a match was found to the city portion of the address in the county subregion reference data set and its centroid was returned as output

County Centroid= A match was found to the city portion of the address in the county reference data set and its centroid was returned as output

Zipcode Centroid= A match was found to zipcode portion of the address and its centroid was returned as output

Unmatchable= A match could not be found for the input