OK, what does "geospatial" mean?

We all use the word, but what--exactly--does "geospatial" mean?

It's kind of an odd word anyway, surely "geo" and "spatial" refer to the same thing, namely, well space and geography. Can you have a geo-geography? How about a non-geo spatial? What's the difference between regular spatial and geospatial?

Is it an industry word? People in academia don't seem to use it.

Glenn at anything geospatial says he's been doing geospatial and GIS for 15 years, but I thought the word was only a few years old. What's the difference between GIS and geospatial then?

Is it a good word? Should we promote it? Should we replace "GIS" with "geospatial" when we speak to other people?

What does it mean?


Surazeus said...

Since "geo" is from Greek gaya meaning Earth, geospatial would thus mean earth-space. It has a poetic ring to it, which makes it fun to use. :)

GeoMullah said...


Try "GEOINT," I work with people in that industry, not only do I feel that geospatial is a bastardized word, but GEOINT, as much as it has done to bring value to geography; has also cheapened what the discipline of geography is. Geography is not just about pretty colors and symbols on maps, but rather the study of the relationship between people and place. Geography is so much more that imagery analysis, which only counts the number of ice cream trucks at a wherehouse. Geography tells you why there are ice cream trucks, their purpose, their customers, the climate and environment where they operate, and then why they're parked at that wherehouse. Also, geography also tells you why that wherehouse is where it is. Is it next to the ice cream factory? Or a rail hub? Or, is it a centrally located facilty to generate the most income for the ice cream trucks?

That is geography. Geospatial, as much as we hurt the discipline that we love with inappropriate semantics, is still going to be used. What can be done to re-inviggorate "geography" is to discuss why it matters and to give it its full props.

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