How well do we really know the world? Uncertainty in GIScience

Michael F. Goodchild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


There are many reasons why geospatial data are not geography, but merely representations of it. Thus geospatial data will always leave their user uncertain about the true nature of the world. Over the past three decades uncertainty has become the focus of significant research in GIScience. This paper reviews the reasons for uncertainty, its various dimensions from measurement to modeling, visualization, and propagation. The later sections of the paper explore the implications of current trends, specifically data science, new data sources, and replicability, and the new questions these are posing for GIScience research in the coming years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Spatial Information Science
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Accuracy
  • Data science
  • Precision
  • Spatial resolution
  • Synthesis
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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