What does a geographer do?
For a long time we have wanted to contact the protagonist of this interview. Gersón Beltrán spoke with Laura García, part of the Geofumadas and Twingeo Magazine team to give her perspective on the present and future of geotechnologies. We begin by asking him what a Geographer really does and if - as we are often stressed - we are limited to “making maps”. Gerson emphatically stated that "Those who make maps are the ancient surveyors or geomatics engineers, we geographers interpret them, for us they are never an end, but a means, it is our language of communication."
For him, “a geographer works in five major areas: urban planning, territorial development, geographic information technologies, the environment and the knowledge society. From there we could say that we are the science of where and, therefore, we work on all those aspects in which the human being is related to the environment that surrounds him and that has an eminently spatial component. We have the ability to see projects from a global perspective to integrate the sensitivities of other disciplines in order to analyze, manage and transform the territory ”.
Lately we see that geotechnologies are being given greater importance and therefore, professionals in this field are required so that they can comply with the spatial data management processes correctly. The question is what is the importance of professions related to geotechnologies, to which the guest replied that “The geospatial industry groups all disciplines around earth sciences. Today all companies use the spatial variable, only some do not know it. They all have a treasure that is geolocated data, you just have to know how to extract it, treat it and get the value out of it. The future will continue to be more and more spatial because everything happens somewhere and it is essential to introduce this variable to have a complete vision of any field ”.
About GIS + BIM
The vast majority are very clear that this 4th industrial revolution has as one of its objectives the creation of smart cities. The problem comes when there are differences of thought regarding the data management tools, for one the BIM is ideal, for others the GIS must be paramount. Gerson explains his position on the matter “If there is a tool that currently allows the management of smart cities, it is, without any doubt, the GIS. The concept of dividing the city into interrelated layers and with a huge amount of information is the basis of GIS and spatial management, at least since the XNUMXs. For me, a BIM is the GIS of architects, very useful, with the same philosophy, but on a different scale. It is very similar to what it used to be to work with Arcgis or Autocad.
So, GIS + BIM integration is the ideal, -the million dollar question, some would say- “In the end the ideal is to be able to integrate them, because a building without a context is meaningless and a space without buildings (at least in the city) as well. It's like integrating Google Street View into the streets with Google 360 inside the buildings, there doesn't have to be a break, it has to be a continuum, Ideally, a map would take us from the Milky Way to the Wi-Fi in the living room and everything would be interconnected by smart layers. As for digital twins, they may or may not be within this benefit, in the end it is a different way of working and, as I have said, this is more a matter of scale ”.
There are now multiple GIS tools both private and free to use, each with different benefits, and their success also depends on how expert the analyst is. Although Beltrán told us that he does not use free GIS software, he expressed his opinion “by colleagues and reading a lot, it seems that QGIS is imposed, although GVSIG remains in Latin America as the GIS par excellence. But there are numerous very interesting alternatives such as GeoWE or eMapic in Spain. Developers not so much from the geo world work with Leaflet and others directly through code. From my point of view the benefits always depend on the objectives, I have made analyzes, visualizations and presentations with free GIS and, depending on the objective, using one or the other. It is true that it has advantages over proprietary GIS, but also disadvantages, since it requires knowledge and programming time and, in the end, that turns into money. In the end they are tools and the important thing is to know what you want to use and the learning curve necessary to do it. You don't have to stand on one side or the other, but rather allow both to coexist and choose the best tool for each project, which in the end will give the best solution for each problem ”.
The evolution of GIS tools has been abysmal in recent years, to which Beltrán added the qualities "Enriching and wonderful." Indeed, the fusion with other technologies is what has led them to other areas, to leave their "comfort zone" and add value in other disciplines, they have been enriched thanks to this hybridization, the best evolution is always the one that mixes and it does not discriminate and this also applies to geospatial technologies.
Regarding free GIS, the neogeography that began many years ago has reached its maximum exponent in which anyone is capable of making a map or a spatial analysis based on their needs and capabilities and that is something magnificent, since it allows have a wide spectrum of maps depending on the needs and capacities of each organization.
On the capture and disposition of data
We continue with the questions, and in this section it was the turn of the data acquisition and capture methods, as will be the future of remote air and space sensors, will they stop being used and will the use of real-time capture devices increase? ? Gersón told us “that they will continue to be used. I am a big fan of real-time maps, but that does not mean that they are going to "kill" the generation of non-immediate information, although it is true that society voraciously consumes information, there is it that requires those times and another pause. A map from a Twitter hashtag is not the same as an aquifer map, nor does it have to be, both have coordinates and geographic information, but they move in very different temporal coordinates ”.
Likewise, we ask your impressions about the large amount of information that personal mobile devices transmit continuously, is it a double-edged sword? "Naturally they are a double-edged sword, like all weapons. The data are very interesting and I am convinced that they help us, but always under two precepts: ethics and legislation. If both are met, the benefits are very important, since the adequate treatment of the data, anonymized and aggregated, help us to know what is happening and where it happens, generate models, identify trends and, with this, carry out simulations and predictions of how it can evolve ”.
Then, Will the professions related to Geomatics and Big Data management be revalued in the near future? I am convinced that yes, but not so much that there is an explicit assessment, which perhaps is what all professionals expect, but rather implicitly, the fact of having to use the tools and functionalities of Geomatics and Big Data already implies a revaluation of the same. As a counterpart, it must be taken into account that there is also a certain bubble, for example around Big Data, as if it were the solution for everything and it is not, large volumes of data in themselves have no value and few companies are turning that data into knowledge and intelligence that helps them to make decisions and improve business efficiency.
What is Play & Go Experience?
He told us about his project, Play & Go Experience, “Play & go experience is a Spanish startup that helps organizations in their digital transformation processes through technological solutions. We work in all sectors, although specialized in services (tourism, environment, education, health, etc). At Play & go experience we carry out the design, programming, exploitation and analysis of project results to improve the user experience through gamification and improve the results of organizations through smart data.
To add a plus to this experience, Gersón sent a motivational message to all those who want to give Geography a chance as a profession and lifestyle. “Geography, as a science, helps us answer questions, in this case related to the planet that surrounds us: why are there floods and how to avoid them? How do you build a city? Can I attract more tourists to my destination? What is the best way to get from one place to another polluting less? How does climate influence crops and what can technology do to improve them? Which areas have better employability rates? How were mountains formed? And so endless questions. The interesting thing about this discipline is that it is very broad and allows a global and interrelated vision of human life on the planet, which is not understood if it is only analyzed from one perspective. In the end we all live in a place and in a spatial and temporal context and geography helps us understand what we do here and how to improve our lives and that of the people around us. That is why it is a very practical profession, as we have seen before, those questions, which `can seem philosophical, go down to the realm of reality and solve real people's problems. Being a geographer allows you to look around you and understand things, although not all or, at least, wonder why they happen and try to answer, after all, that is the basis of science and what makes us human "
The world is too immense and wonderful not to try to understand it and integrate ourselves into it, we have to listen more to nature and follow its rhythm so that everything is balanced and has harmony. Finally, that they always look to the past to know it, but, above all, to the future to dream about it and the future is always a place we want to reach.
More from the interview
The full interview is published in the 5th Edition of Twingeo Magazine. Twingeo is at your complete disposal to receive articles related to Geoengineering for its next edition, contact us through the emails firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Until the next edition.