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Roots of Geographic Information Systems

Roots of Geographic Information Systems

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Published by Jimmy
I studied in England in 2004, and visited The Prime meridian with my GPS, and realized that 0 degrees didn't register on the line, but a few meters over in field. I decided that for my class report, I would write about it.

Also see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System
I studied in England in 2004, and visited The Prime meridian with my GPS, and realized that 0 degrees didn't register on the line, but a few meters over in field. I decided that for my class report, I would write about it.

Also see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Geodetic_System

More info:

Published by: Jimmy on Feb 17, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/21/2010

 
 Roots of Geographic Information Systems in the United KingdomBy James McAndrew(September 10, 2004)
 
 2It is hard to believe that only in the past 250 years, we have begun to learn how toreliably measure time and space. Without reliable measurements, it is next to impossibleto travel long distances at sea and expect to arrive safely and on time, to navigate rockywaters, or to survey new land.Originally the ability to find one’s longitude was primarily valuable to shipsneeding to navigate their way to distant coasts for trade. Today, since it has becomemuch easier to determine one’s location, this information has become useful in manyother aspects of our lives.With so much data now available, from so many different sources, a relativelynew field has developed, that is information science. Information science is the field thatspecializes in organizing data into information that is useful to meet one’s goals.Examples of this can be found everywhere in today’s data-centered world. When you usea library’s card catalog system, you are using an information system. Typically aninformation system can be used to take large amounts of data, such as marketingresearch, and analyze it so it can lead a manager to optimal business decisions.Geographical data, such was latitude and longitude, can be stored with otherinformation denoting landmarks or features such as trade routes. With the advent of thecomputer and computerized information science, this geographical information can beused to create many new ways to use and to apply the spatial data. Many newinformation systems incorporating geospatial information are being created in the fieldsof ecology, civil engineering, and marketing. This growth in geospatial databases hasestablished a rationale for information science professionals to understand the basics andthe history of latitude and longitude.
 
 3Until the 1750s, there was no reliable way to determine one’s longitude while atsea. The ability to determine one’s longitude and latitude was critical to establish and tomaintain naval and economy power. The solution to the problem came from a carpenternamed John Harrison. Harrison applied his knowledge as a carpenter, qualities of different types of wood, precise measurement, and design, to clocks, and was able tocreate clocks that could tell time reliably while at sea. Harrison created four versions of his extremely reliable clock called a chronometer. The fourth version, the H4 was onlyfive inches in diameter, and was extremely portable. Harrison’s chronometer allowedships to compare their local noon with noon at a known location on earth. (Sobel) Theability to reliably compare local noon to a known location allowed ships to tell theirlongitude. This method is still sometimes used today, but is rapidly being replaced withnewer technologies.In the 1970s the United States of America launched its satellites for the globalpositioning system (GPS) into orbit. This system marks a major advancement in theworld of geospatial information systems. For the first time, systems could report theirgeographical location within a few meters; including latitude, longitude, and height abovesea level. This system also uses what is called the WGS84 (World Geodetic System 84)to determine latitude and longitude. This system is slightly different than the agreed-upon system that was created using the Prime Meridian as 0°. (National MaritimeMuseum)Over the past century, there have been many influences on the latitude andlongitude system that have allowed the 0º marker to differ slightly from the PrimeMeridian. The most influential change came with the advent of American satellites and

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