Remembering the Father of GIS – Dr. Roger F. Tomlinson (1933 – 2014)

He was widely known as the “Father of GIS”. He was the one who first came out with the term “geographic information system or GIS”. He first created the computerized geographic information system in the 1960s for the Canadian government. Dr. Roger Tomlinson (1933 – 2014), who passed away on February 7, 2014, at the age of 80 was an English visionary geographer.

The "Father of GIS": Dr. Roger F. Tomlinson (1933 - 2014)

The “Father of GIS”: Dr. Roger F. Tomlinson (1933 – 2014)

He was also the author of “Thinking About GIS : Geographic Information System Planning for Managers”, one of the most widely read books about GIS. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Tomlinson at Esri International UC in San Diego and was honoured to get an autographed copy of this 10 stage step by step methodology of implementing GIS.

Thinking About GIS: Geographic Information System Planning for Managers

The book summarized a lifetime of experience and wisdom from the legend in the world of GIS into a clear and structured guide for GIS planning. The objective of this book is to help bridge the communication gap between senior executives and GIS managers. It gives senior executives the context for the questions they must ask about GIS in their organization, as well as inform GIS managers how to answer these questions.

Among the most profound knowledge that I gained from this book is to consider the strategic purpose of your GIS implementation, describe the information products, let your information product requirement determine what data and functions needed then match with the right systems (hardware & software) that support the functions identified.

Way too often we see many failed GIS implementation started by first determining the system (hardware & software) based on cost/budget, only then found out the system limitations restricting some of the main functionalities and information products needed the most by your users.

Dr. Tomlinson left a remarkable legacy that laid the foundation for modern GIS and digital mapping that transformed the field of geography. Thank you Dr. Tomlinson. We will miss you, your contribution and your wisdom greatly.

See Dr. Tomlinson’s obituary

See Dr. Tomlinson’s online memorial

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