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Geospatial data are central to the challenges and opportunities for science and society that big data provide. Geospatial data derive from a rapidly expanding array of sources that include sensors (from satellites, to cameras and other sensing devices carried by UAVs, to distributed sensors monitoring energy consumption, pollution, traffic, and more with smart cities), GPS enabled devices (in vehicles, smart phones, cameras, human wearable devices, and even ones small enough to mount on migrating songbirds), citizen science efforts producing volunteered geospatial data, address-linked public health and many other records, retail transactions, and location-linked social media posts. As geospatial data become more ubiquitous, big digital geospatial data has become an essential part of geographic analysis.
No matter how sophisticated information technology gets, there is nothing that can replicate the combination of two unique pieces of data: time and place. Geospatial data come from a variety of sources, including sensors, GPS-enabled devices, volunteered geospatial data, and location-linked records and social media posts. Geographic information scientists and other geographers collect and use big data to analyze social and natural phenomena about our world. As geospatial data become more ubiquitous, big digital geospatial data has become an essential part of geographic analysis. Students enrolled in this certificate can learn how to collect, process, analyze, and communicate a wide range of geospatial big data.
There are many potential careers for big data geospatial scientists. Students earning the Geospatial Big Data Analytics certificate learn a wide range of technological, research, and analytical skills that are highly valued by employers. Big data geography undergraduates find jobs in all levels of government, nonprofit organizations, and industry.