anomalies and novel patterns, and initiating appropriate investigations. Such real-time analysis of medical diagnoses by primary care physicians, for example, could provide early warning of disease outbreaks and health hazards. Data coming from individuals could be used to provide early assessments of the damage from disasters, and could speed the initiation of response. Spatial decision-support systems based on real-time streams of data could provide new levels of effectiveness in the management of numerous social and environmental problems.
Advances in technology in the contemporary area present new opportunities and challenges for the age-old task of observing, mapping, and representing Earth’s changing geographical character. Pursuit of the illustrative research questions presented in this chapter will enable the geographical sciences to collect, analyze, and share information in ways that are critical to the multidisciplinary task of understanding and assessing the human and environmental processes that are shaping the future of the planet.