The World in a Box

Caitlin Dempsey


“The World in a Box” is a new hour-long video released by GITA and funded in part by companies such as Autodesk, Inc.; GITA; Hewlett-Packard; Intergraph Corporation; and Oracle Corporation.

The video features interviews with major corporate and academic players in the GIS industry as well as people who represent domain experts and are successfully using GIS for a specific application.

Using GIS to determine cause and effect

The short stories featured in the video illustrate how GIS can be used to determine cause and effect. In other words, a GIS can be used to discern patterns that are not immediately obvious using the traditional overlay analysis techniques familiar to geographers and landscape architects.

As John Antenucci of Plangraphics says, “GIS gives us the ability to see the forest and the trees at the same time.”

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Using GIS to expand access to public information

The second message the video delivers is that GIS can potentially expand our access to public information. However, several of the comments solicited from experts in the video mention the potential for abuse that access to previously private information will bring.

Image of the World in a Box video with a blue tinted globe and the title with alternating white and black text boxes.

A quick overview on GIS topics

This is not a technical video, nor does it pretend to be. Some of the issues of GIS such as privacy and accuracy are touched on fleetingly. Different technologies, such as GPS and remote sensing, are shown but not dealt with in any depth.

A vendor-neutral look at GIS

This is also not a video which details the features available in each vendor’s GIS software solution. In fact, the video is pleasantly vendor-neutral, despite the fact that many screenshots from different GIS software packages are shown.

Real-world examples of GIS

The video focuses on highlighting real-world examples of how GIS is helping society on a daily basis. Many areas are covered in this video including famine, grassroots environmentalism, crime, farming, and archaeology.

Although each segment shows different situations, on different continents, and in different industries, the same concepts reappear.

This is an excellent video to show people who want to understand what GIS can do and how it affects them. This video would also do well as a primer for high school and college introductory GIS courses in order to whet their appetites for the technology.

For those who are well acquainted with GIS, this is an interesting documentary on the successful use of GIS for a variety of applications.


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.