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The intrinsic GeoReference

When we read the different theories that support communication where mapping is involved, both as science to represent geographical phenomena, as well as art to give this information necessary aesthetics; we realize that time in which we live includes multiple actions in the journal live where we use GeoReference as daily action.

From the moment we turn on a mobile device, information we send or receive is associated with the GeoReference: weather, latest news, social networks, a map consultation, GPS activation or images labeling. It is clear that this did not come from overnight, the impression that we live in an unprecedented moment will always be relative, and despite we recognize the almost unlimited capacity of human invention, it is not impossible to imagine what could be happening 25 years later. In the same way perhaps nobody imagined this 25 years ago, especially in an era in which information technology and computer sciences have soared exponentially innovation’s overcrowding for everyday consumption.


Although GeoReference criterion has been a human being natural action, consider their identification on a device or printed map, for a long time was a specialized activity with access only to a privileged people group. So that analyze the GeoReference intrinsic aspect is important for its particular determination and also to project what might happen in other disciplines in the coming years. Then let’s look at this aspect’s implications.

How did the GeoReference become intrinsic?

In principle the reason is simple: because geolocation is part of daily living. Every day we need to move in a three-dimensional environment where, for example, we drive twenty blocks to the right, six on the left, go down two levels for parking a car and go up four levels to work in an office. This can be done daily but when we need to describe it in a sheet of paper or make it graphic in a TV advertisement, it is when we are more aware. However this geolocation was local and of individual interest for a long time, so that it became as a daily routine.

gpsKanakubo (1) tells us in his contemporary Cartography development presentation, that the cartography theory evolution has been associated with the interests of important entities at specific times; for example the conquering Empires, militia teams in wars, or the international economic centers. Those moments created the need to see the GeoReference with a reach beyond the local view, like seeing neighboring countries, the continent and how the current wave is: the global thinking.

The moment that we now live in, does that interest of maintaining a connected world, requires the GeoReference use in moving routines. It’s just what has brought the intrinsic aspect: shops require to indicate where are their premises, customers need to get them, technologies manufacturers are obliged to develop applications, academy offers new educational alternatives in this field and this competition brings innovation to the users. Of course, the end user is not even aware of this, and that is what we call intrinsic, because it is on the daily living.

Benefits of intrinsic geolocation

There are many reasons why to believe this is beneficial, although later we will then talk about risk. From the point of view of those like me that hold our economies from the science and technology of geographic information, the greatest benefit is in the increasing daily need of our services. Whether we develop applications, training, sell products or services, the fact is that as GeoReference a necessity, it benefits us.

But beyond our particular interests, a major benefit is in the applications’ availability for the human being, every day with more functionality based on geolocation. Note how easy is now to move using a GPS wizard available in the vehicle, and think about opportunities of not having it and that the trip has been for emergent reasons. We can also see the user benefit who can place on an Internet portal his products that are purchased by a customer outside the country, without any direct contact.

The disciplines associated with the geo-engineering are evidence of the geolocation benefits. The field data capture equipment, each day are more appreciated. But also every day is difficult to meet the boundary between field and office functions, because the GeoReference is both implicit in the capture, as well as in modeling and infrastructure operation. Standards such as BIM (2) are intended to bring geolocation to dimensions further than expected, such as the operation, time and costs.

There is also a huge benefit in every day more efficient and daily production. The today voluntary collaboration is interesting in systems development like e.g. Open Street Maps, a global reach catalogue, with cartography which has been produced by the user community thanks to a dynamic known as Crowdsourcing. This would haven’t been possible if the geolocation does not become intrinsic because to produce this information is not necessary an effort more than the sharing function on the mobile device and accept the data upload.

So if we deepen into the magnitude of geolocation benefits, surely the list would be very broad. Especially focused on the economy, better time management, collaboration, security, and the opportunity to innovate for the human being benefit.

Risks of the intrinsic GeoReference

Not everything will be rosy in an uncertain environment like the information democratization. There are associated risks, where the only guilty tends to be the same human person.

Among these we can mention, the loss of privacy. The fact that we are depending on a device connected to GPS signals, involves the geolocation information delivery which in other time was completely private. And while it might be very useful for some knowing where their children are, it would also be dangerous because criminals will also know the same information. Privacy at the end is a situation which has its risks.

Another risk is in the Crampton (3) approach, who in his presentation of the science related to the maps, raises that it cost too much for maps to have the quality and scientific support that now have. But the fact that consultation and maps generation by unskilled users becomes an intrinsic action, brings the risk of losing quality or standardized criteria. It’s known position that among more agile are scientific development capabilities, less will be the brain effort and therefore a back intelligence risk.

In conclusion, the intrinsic GeoReference is the inclusion of geolocation in different human being routines, both scientific, technical and day-to-day. This GeoReference has evolved to the extent that we do it automatically. The benefits are much greater than the risks, therefore will need to be vigilant of the trends, both for finding solutions and propose opportunities.

(1) Tositomo Kanakubo, the Development of Contemporary Theorical Cartography

(2) Building Information Modeling

(3) How Mapping became Scientific

(4) Taken with the author’s agreement: Professor said that it was not the trial he wanted for his class, he expected something less analytical, more linear, more one-directional, so less geo-referenced. Enough reason to recycle it here.

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