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‘Father of GIS’ receives top honour

Nearly half a century has passed since Roger Tomlinson realized the future of geography by developing the first geographic information system (GIS). Today, says the Ottawa-based geographer, five million people at 350,000 institutions in 123 countries use the computer technology for managing, analyzing and displaying all forms of geographic data.

In recognition of his groundbreaking work, Tomlinson received the National Geographic Society’s Alexander Graham Bell Medal in San Diego, California, in July, along with Jack Dangermond, also a GIS pioneer and the founder and president of Environmental Systems Research Institute in California. The medal, which recognizes “extraordinary achievement in geographic research,” has been awarded only once before, in 1980.

“This is the recognition that GIS is very important,” says Tomlinson. “It means that people are getting serious about geography and its impact on the world.” Tomlinson was awarded
The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Gold Medal in 2003.

- Julia Maffett

(Photo: Jana Chytilova/Ottawa Citizen/CP Images)

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