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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2014  /  February 2014  /  Roger Tomlinson, 1933-2014

Roger Tomlinson, 1933-2014

Death of the “Father of GIS”

Roger Tomlinson, 1933-2014

Dr Roger Tomlinson, the primary originator of modern computerized geographic information systems (GIS) and generally acknowledged as the "father of GIS", died in Mexico on 9th February.

Roger gained his first degrees in the UK and Canada and, while working for the Canadian federal government in the early 1960s, is generally credited with developing the Canada Geographical Information System (CGIS), the first computerised “geographical information system” in the world.

He then completed his Doctoral thesis in UCL Geography in the early 1970s: The application of electronic computing methods and techniques to the storage, compilation, and assessment of mapped data. This was an account of his experience from the CGIS and the “state of art” of GIS at the time.

Roger went on to work from his base in Ottawa as a freelance international geographical consultant for a wide variety of private sector, government and non-profit organisations. He was Chairman of the International Geographical Union GIS Commission for 12 years, promoting the international development of GIS applications as data storage, processing and presentation capacities began to be transformed by the computer revolution.

Roger was made a Fellow of UCL in 2003, and was able to see the progress being made in the interdisciplinary development of GIS research at UCL, especially at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis.

He was awarded the Order of Canada for "changing the face of geography as a discipline", and in 2013 made Officer of the Order of Canada by the Governor General, as well as receiving honorary degrees from several universities and a number of other national and international awards.

Roger was a “Big Man” in every sense, who made a pioneering contribution to one of the most significant developments in contemporary geography, especially in North America and internationally.



Roger's pioneering account of the CGIS