"The new source of power is not money in the hands of the few but information in the hands of the many (Naisbitt, Megatrends)."With recent advances in computer hardware and software, as well as the successful launch of numerous commercial and public-sector satellite systems, geospatial data is available and being applied like never before. Some of the benefits of using spatial information are the ability to visualize spatial relations, archive data to study temporal changes, freeze action in dynamic processes, study processes across a range of scales from local to global, and model problems in easily understandable ways. All of these benefits of using spatial data lead to better understanding and more effective management and decision making. A common method for exploiting geospatial data is to use a geographic information system (GIS). A GIS is an automated computer hardware and software system for collecting, storing. retrieving, manipulating, managing, analyzing, and displaying spatial data. GIS is a tool that has broad relevance to environmental science, management, and monitoring, at many scales of analysis. The term geospatial modeling and analysis (GMA) seeks to recognize this broader context and the integrating nature of spatial approaches.
Instruction in GMA at The State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) seeks to produce informed, qualified, and professional scientists, managers, decision makers, problem solvers, and designers. A diverse collection of courses and experience provides flexible approaches to learning that ranges from broad knowledge to detailed expertise. Research in GMA at ESF is developing new ways to collect and use geospatial data. Combined with ESF's world-renowned environmental expertise, GMA generates fundamental knowledge about the world and contributes to more comprehensive management of natural and cultural resources. GMA uses an interdisciplinary problem solving approach that includes elements of mapping sciences, geography, mathematics, information management, and system analysis.
Collecting, processing, and displaying spatial data has a long tradition at ESF through field work, photointerpretation, photogrammetry, and remote sensing and now modern computer equipment has revolutionized the analysis of this data. The advances in GIS and related technologies has enabled more complex analysis, increasing the applicability and accessibility of GMA. As a result, GMA is integrated into the Departments of Environmental Resources Engineering, Environmental and Forest Biology, Environmental Studies, Forest and Natural Resources Managment and and Landscape Architecture.