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January / February 2004


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UMaine Today Magazine


Lasting Impression

Lasting Impression
 

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The marriage of computerized maps and databases has spawned a worldwide geographic information system industry. One of the industry's roots can be traced to a 1988 National Science Foundation grant to fund a center devoted to the study of geographic information science. The recipient of the $9.8 million grant was a research consortium of three universities: the University of California Santa Barbara, the State University of New York Buffalo and the University of Maine.

The goal was to establish a National Center of Geographic Information and Analysis, known as NCGIA, to expand research efforts in collecting, analyzing and understanding geographic information, and to evaluate the social, legal and institutional implications of the ever-increasing use of GIS technology. NCGIA became an international leader through its trademark "specialist meetings" and cutting-edge research. In addition, NCGIA developed educational materials in GIS-sponsored programs for educators at all levels and supported an outreach program. During the period of the award, NCGIA organized several major international conferences; developed a core curriculum in GIS for undergraduate courses worldwide; and published extensively, including 54 books.

Today, NCGIA continues as a research consortium among the three founding universities. The UMaine site has grown to a research operation with approximately $3 million external annual funding from a variety of federal agencies. Approximately 50 graduate students are currently pursuing master's and doctoral degrees on spatial information science and engineering-related research. Current research activities, focusing on the design of next-generation information systems, include cognitive and ontological foundations, spatio-temporal modeling, mobile computing, image understanding and location privacy.

"Lasting Impression" features a memorable person or event in UMaine history.

 

UMaine Today Magazine
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