Chapter 15 IT and Computer Application
15.1 Information Revolution
Information Revolution refers to the fundamental changes in the production and use of information, occurring in the late 20th century. Human societies throughout history have had “information specialists” (from traditional healers to newspaper editors); and they have had
“information technologies” (from cave painting to accountancy); but two interrelated
developments, social and technological, underpin the diagnosis that an information revolution is now occurring.
15.1.2. The Direction of the Information Revolution
The outcome of the information revolution is seen by some commentators as likely to be as profound as the shift from agricultural to industrial society. Others see the transformation as essentially a change from one form of industrial society to another, as has happened in earlier technological revolutions.
One major issue is how rapidly social institutions adapt to take advantage of the new ways of doing things that new IT makes possible. While some jobs and some areas of people’s lives do
seem to have changed rapidly, many others appear to have been affected relatively little. Historians point out that it can take a very long time for what in retrospect seems the obvious way to use a technology to become standard practice. For example, electric motors were first used as if they were steam engines, with one centralized motor powering numerous devices, rather than numerous small motors, each powering its own appliance.
New IT has often been introduced into well-established patterns of working and living without radically altering them. For example, the traditional office, with secretaries working at keyboards and notes being written on paper and manually exchanged, has remained remarkably stable, even if personal computers have replaced typewriters.
Often the technology that gains acceptance is that which most easily fits within traditional ways of doing things. For example, the fax machine, which could take hand-written or typed notes, and was often delegated to a secretary to use, was hugely successful in the 1980s.At the beginning of that decade, it had been predicted that fax would rapidly die out, and e-mail would take its place; but this proved to involve too much organizational change.
15.1.3. Information Technology and the Consumer
At different rates IT is diffusing into the home. The implications of consumer innovations can be substantial. Widespread use of cars facilitated new ways of life, with a growth of suburban living and out-of-town shopping centers, and a decline of train and bus services. The expansion of consumer IT is associated with changes in ways of working (for example, telework), playing (new home entertainment systems), shopping (teleshopping), and learning (multimedia products of various sorts).
IT can be used in monitoring body conditions (digital thermometers, pulse meters, and blood-pressure meters are available),and in providing health and lifestyle monitoring and advice (recommending exercise levels, medical check-ups, or diets).Telephone helplines have long offered advice, counseling, and medical services; these and many other services are beginning, sometimes in rudimentary form, to be provided on the Internet.
The outcome of the information revolution depends on social action and social choices as well as on technological developments. Just as industrial societies around the world take various forms, and there are very ranges of information societies. However, as new IT permits more global communication, and more firms expand into global markets, there are also strong forces at work to share elements of different cultures around the world on an unprecedented scale.
15.2 Geographic Information System
Geographic Information System is a collection of computer hardware, software, and geographic data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.
15.2.1.How Does GIS Use Geography?
With a Geographic Information System (GIS), you can link information (attributes) to location data, such as people to addresses, buildings to parcels, or streets within a network. You can then layer that information to give you a better understanding of how it all works together. You choose what layers to combine based on what questions you need to answer.
Fig. 17.1 Emergency medical service
According to Fig.17.1, in this example, emergency medical service (EMS) call information, including call type, elapsed travel time, and which rescue Chapter was dispatched to the call's location, has been linked to addresses. With this GIS-linked database, questions such as "What percent of dispatched calls did each EMS Chapter respond to within its assigned zone?" can be answered.
A GIS is most often associated with maps. A map, however, is only one way you can work with geographic data in a GIS, and only one type of product generated by a GIS. This is important, because it means that a GIS can provide a great deal more problem-solving capabilities than using a simple mapping program or adding data to an online mapping tool.
15.2.2Three Views of a GIS
A GIS can be viewed in three ways:
a. The Database View: A GIS is a unique kind of database of the world—a geographic
database (geodatabase). It is an "Information System for Geography." Fundamentally, a GIS is based on a structured database that describes the world in geographic terms.
b. The Map View: A GIS is a set of intelligent maps and other views that show features and feature relationships on the earth's surface. Maps of the underlying geographic information can be constructed and used as "windows into the database" to support queries, analysis, and editing of the information. This is called geovisualization.
Fig. 17.2 GPS
c. The Model View: A GIS(according to Fig.17.2) is a set of information transformation
tools that derive new geographic datasets from existing datasets. These geoprocessing functions take information from existing datasets, apply analytic functions, and write results into new derived datasets.
In other words, by combining data and applying some analytic rules, you can create a model that helps answer the question you have posed. In the example below, according to Fig.17.3,GPS and GIS were used to accurately model the expected location and distribution of debris for the Space Shuttle Columbia, which broke up upon re-entry over eastern Texas on February 1, 2003.