We posed the What Is GIS challenge and some of you responded. Thanks to everyone who participated and also to anyone who took a few minutes to ponder what a GIS elevator pitch might sound like. One thing I’ve learned in life: words matter. Communicate effectively and you have a good chance of winning the contract, job, or customer. If you speak a language that’s foreign to your audience, you court rejection or, worse, setting unrealistic expectations that you can’t deliver on.
Now, imagine a drum roll please. The winner is…oh, that’s right, wait.
We actually selected two winning entries. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tie. Congratulations to co-winners Brandon Batt of Atlanta, Georgia and Brett Lord-Castillo of St. Louis, Missouri. Brandon and Brett both zeroed in on something we think is vitally important: the people aspect.
- To paraquote Brett: GIS is “the people, data, and systems that answer the ‘Why?’ of ‘Where?’”
- To paraquote Brandon: GIS is “a technological framework within which [geographic] information is stored, and includes the people and the methods employed to answer questions about the real world.”
Well done, winners!
Many participants mentioned components of a GIS: hardware, software, data, workflows, and tools. Without a knowledgeable person or team putting those things to valid use, however, the output is meaningless, dangerous even. It’s become easy to make a GIS map or use a GIS tool without realizing what’s at work. Ideally, behind the scenes GIS professionals are at work, helping to make sure maps reflect rather than distort and data informs rather than misleads.
In Esri Training Services, we know the importance of people. Our jobs revolve around devising ways to help people acquire knowledge and skills, create valid GIS products, and support decision makers as well as a mobile and information-hungry public.
Here’s what I’ve learned from this challenge: Coming up with a short, engaging description for a technology that’s used across so many disciplines, for so many applications, to answer an enormous number of questions is…difficult. My future elevator pitch involves bookmarking a cool GIS map on my smartphone or tablet, and showing rather than talking. As one challenge participant said, “A GIS map is worth a thousand pieces of data.” A GIS map is also worth more than 50 words.
Brandon and Brett, a free Virtual Campus web course is not a ticket worth 600 million, but we hope you enjoy your learning experience and take away some useful knowledge that assists your GIS journey.