Mere geoprocessering ...
More geoprocessing ...
By Paul M. Torrens
Much of the inner workings of geographic information systems is organized around data models: computational structures (rasters and vectors are common variants) that determine how GIS stores, organizes, and displays various types of information for different purposes. Put simply, data models treat the world in terms of objects that represent entities and their related attributes. In GIS, there is usually no dedicated model of the processes that govern dynamics, adaptation, and evolution of a system. For many years, GIS has advanced the potential for unifying representations of entities and processes, and recently, the long-standing promise of consociating the two is beginning to be realized, enabling a burgeoning paradigm shift to a new style of GIS.
The next generation of geographic information systems will be driven by process models. These are usually composed of algorithms and heuristics that will act on users' requests for the GIS to perform some service for them, connect to digital networks to contextualize those requests, and interact seamlessly with other databases and processes to achieve users' goals. Alternatively, process models may be used as a synthetic representation of system parts to build artificial phenomena "in silico" that can be subjected to experimentation and what-if scenario building in ways that are not possible "on the ground." Geoprocessing has been featured with increasing priority in GIS for some time, and conventional GIS already relies on geoprocessing for spatial analysis and data manipulation.
Process models represent an evolution from these existing technologies, catalyzed by artificial intelligence that takes traditional GIS operations into the world of dynamic, proactive computing on a semantic Web of interconnected data and intelligent software agents. Imagine, for example, building a representation of the earth's boundary layer climate in GIS, but also being able to run dynamic weather patterns, storms, and hurricanes over that data, using climate models that sit in a supercomputing center on another continent. This article charts the development of process models in the geographic information sciences and discusses the technologies that have shaped them from the outside in. In addition, it explores their future potential in allying next-generation GIS to the semantic Web, virtual worlds, computer gaming, computational social science, business intelligence, cyberplaces, the emerging "Internet of Things," and newly discovered nanospaces. [...]
Source: GIS and Science
Read more: http://www.esri.com/news/arcnews/summer09articles/process-models.html