After the last few years, GIS and geospatial awareness has come into our lives more and more. A number of the current jiscGEO funded projects are working to make it easier for geospatial informattion to be utilised by other disciplines or the average person.
G3 looked at the “Child of Ten standard” meaning that a 10 year-old should be able to learn to do something useful with a system in 10 minutes. It makes me really wonder what a child would do with a professional GIS program such as ArcGIS. I was in a university class where it took a lot of students 2 to 3 of the 2-hour workshops before they understood even the basics of creating and exporting/printing a map. G3 also performed a much-appreciated user-experience study of the OpenStreetMap Potlatch editor, discovering a lot of common hurdles for new users trying to get started in making basic edits to the map.
The GEMMA project recently walked through creating a map of the main London airports without specialised software or knowledge. It seemed their child of 10 might struggle to make an acceptable image, despite trying a number of options. They hope that GEMMA will provide an adequate solution when complete.
Though they are the two projects specically looking to making easier non-expert tools for GIS work, ELO Geo is creating a framework and a repository for sharing lessons and teaching material for students wishing to use GIS. The Nature Locator and GeoSciTeach are using the medium of mobile apps to make it easier for work to have a geospatial context.
Some might say GIS is a complex beast, that should only be worked with by experts otherwise mistakes and false conclusions could be made. But I’m excited about the idea that everyone could become geospatially aware, or use educational apps that are aware of the location they’re in. It empowers people to know about the world around them, and can also result in more geospatial data to be used by those experts who really know and love looking at such things.
If a child of 10 can do something in 10 minutes, then there’s not likely to be problems for anyone older. How easily would a child of 10 use the other projects, and would they find any needed instructions/tutorials without them being given? What couldn’t they do without the work of the project, or what would they have done instead (e.g. taken ages, or a flawed work around)?