what do I mean by geospatial awareness?
While it takes a trained professional to systematically solve a problem geospatially, the stakeholders involved in the problem-solving often contribute or hinder the solution more than they realize. A geospatial professional on the other hand either enhances or reduces the solution and the scope of “geospatial” in the problem. Learning happens on both sides at different levels; what makes the mark is when an appreciation for the multidimensionality of reality kindles. This appreciation for the finer understanding of multiple dimensions involved in earth-based objects and phenomena is what I refer to as geospatial awareness.
Owing to the contemporary practices in the geospatial world, the technical know-how of the tools can be easily misconstrued as geospatial awareness. In fact, it is the case; most common GIS specialists are boasting of how many tools they have used or know exist. While this is a great asset to have, knowing what a tool can do without knowing its limitations is futile, for such knowledge itself will become the limitation of the specialist. The only way a specialist can appreciate the limitation of a tool is a complete understanding of the solution not the tool alone. Once the specialist appreciates the tool’s limitation s/he is not limited by the tool anymore. Knowing what to achieve, s/he goes about finding the tool that can implement the solution they designed. This aspect of understanding how to solve a geospatial problem in concept first and then finding tools to put the solution in place is the key that is lost in the current geospatial world.
Perhaps a truth in general, this constricting approach of replacing scientific knowledge with technical knowhow has but a profound impact in the geospatial world. Simple and straight reason being a rather scarce commodity, “non-linear thinking”, which is what the geospatial world is all about. For a mind extensively trained to think linearly, thinking up a solution in the non-linear space (multiple dimensions of reality) becomes not only a challenge but also a hindrance to solution-making. Most people revert to saying, ‘I think this is unwanted complexity or beyond me, let me do it my way, which I know works’. Very few people break out of their cocoons of inability to think spatially. Spatial thinking or awareness of space/time is a very subtle thing quite natural to all beings. We have only hindered this innate ability of ours by limiting ourselves to linear mathematics and conventional solutions.
A mind open to new horizons of civilizational improvement alone can grasp and enhance the “geospatial” science. Such a spatial thinking flair can always be rekindled in anybody and this is what I mean by enhancing geospatial awareness. Geospatial awareness is not a key requirement of the specialist alone nor the stakeholder but of every human being. Enhancing geospatial awareness through every solution implemented is my motto.
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