Understanding the characteristics of the rapidly evolving geospatial software ecosystem in the United States is critical to enable convergence research and education that are dependent on geospatial data and software. This paper describes a survey approach to better understand geospatial use cases, software and tools, and limitations encountered while using and developing geospatial software. The survey was broadcast through a variety of geospatial-related academic mailing lists and listservs. We report both quantitative responses and qualitative insights. As 42% of respondents indicated that they viewed their work as limited by inadequacies in geospatial software, ample room for improvement exists. In general, respondents expressed concerns about steep learning curves and insufficient time for mastering geospatial software, and often limited access to high-performance computing resources. If adequate efforts were taken to resolve software limitations, respondents believed they would be able to better handle big data, cover broader study areas, integrate more types of data, and pursue new research. Insights gained from this survey play an important role in supporting the conceptualization of a national geospatial software institute in the United States with the aim to drastically advance the geospatial software ecosystem to enable broad and significant research and education advances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2168-2186
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2021


  • CyberGIS
  • cyberinfrastructure
  • data science
  • geospatial discovery and innovation
  • geospatial software

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Library and Information Sciences


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