Campus News

Know the term ‘GIS’? Top GIScience expert to speak at UB


Published April 9, 2015

Michael Goodchild.

Michael Goodchild

Goodchild's talk at UB will be titled, “Is Big (geo) Data the next big thing in the spatial sciences?”

GIS, a geographic information system, is a system that allows you to store, organize, analyze, play with or visualize location-based information.

It’s the foundation of services like Google Maps. It’s what enables you to look up the location of a store or restaurant on your smartphone. It helps researchers track the spread of epidemics, map crime and document global temperature changes. It’s prolific, and in a digital age, it’s part of our daily lives.

So it’s with excitement that the UB Department of Geography and the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) at Buffalo are hosting a lecture by Michael Goodchild, whom many researchers consider the founder of GIScience — the study and development of new technologies and methods for understanding geographic data.

Goodchild will visit UB this month to give a talk titled, “Is Big (geo) Data the next big thing in the spatial sciences?”

The event is free and open to the public. It takes place on Friday, April 17, from 3:30-5 p.m. in Room 170 of the Millard Fillmore Academic Center in the Ellicott Complex on North Campus.

Goodchild is the 2015 Vince Ebert Distinguished Speaker and 2015 NCGIA Distinguished Speaker at UB.

According to Goodchild’s description of his upcoming lecture, “Big Data is an exciting new development, with major impacts in many areas and strong responses from educators. Its significance for science is less clear.

“In this presentation I define Big Data, relate it to other contemporary trends in science, and focus specifically on its significance for spatial information and the spatial sciences. I discuss the quality issue and methods for ‘hardening’ Big Data, the nature of spatial prediction, and the possibility of real-time spatial science.”

Goodchild is an emeritus professor of geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he previously served as director of UCSB's Center for Spatial Studies.

For many years Goodchild has led the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis consortium consisting of UCSB, UB, and the University of Maine. He was one of the early leaders in the field of geographic information science, and has become an influential figure across research communities, industry, and government agencies dealing with GIS.

Since the 1990s, he and his colleagues have mobilized a broad research community to focus on key issues in spatial science. The outcome has been phenomenal advances in GIScience that have had a profound influence on research in many disciplines.

Goodchild has published 15 books, more than 500 articles, and obtained more than $55 million in research grants. He received a BA in physics from Cambridge University in 1965 and a PhD in geography from McMaster University in 1969. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a Foreign Member of the Royal Society of Canada, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Foreign Member of the Royal Society and Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy; and he also received the Prix Vautrin Lud.