The evolution of GIS in the past twenty years or so can best be explained by the development of two important sectors in the information technology field – hardware and software developments. Based on the available literature on this subject, it is clear that these two are the core components of the system and the manner by which they rapidly evolve has driven the pace by which GIS has changed and will change over time. This is supported by the evidence that follows. Essentially, GIS is defined as “ the system of computer hardware, software, personnel, organizations, and business processes designed to support the capture, management, manipulation, analysis, modeling, and display of spatially referenced data” (TRB, p.10).
As with any type of computing technology, the GIS's own system has consisted of three basic parts, namely, the UI or the user interface, the tools, which are differentiated according to functions, and, finally, the data manager. Put in another way, the components of the system can be said to include data, technology, application and humans (Lloyd and Bunch, 2003, p. 828). All of which have their respective and equally important functions.
While the GIS could run in a single computer terminal, the optimum framework requires several computers for GIS operations - desktop, client-server, centralized desktop and centralized server (Longley et al. 2005, p. 158). These variables and operational framework underscore why hardware and software are critical in the progression of the GIS development. HardwareThe invention of the silicon chip back in the 1970s launched the fast-paced computer development (Pasewark and Pinard, 2007, p. 263). It led to the viability of personal computers, which became the precursor of the current technology typified by smaller, faster, powerful and cheap hardware.
To put this environment in context, there is the so-called Moore’ s Law which states that computer processing chips double in power almost every 18 months, making computer more powerful than ever before
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