I was participating in a Clubhouse discussion today when someone asked the about the distinction between GIS and geospatial. Since Clubhouse is audio-only, I am paraphrasing by contribution to that particular discussion here.
I think the boundaries and definitions of these concepts are pretty blurry and I am reticent to create hard distinctions between them. In my daily life, I use the three terms “geography,” “geospatial,” and “GIS,” but I don’t use them interchangeably. I see all three as related in a layered fashions with geography being the bottom base layer and GIS being the top layer. I’ll briefly discuss each from bottom to top.
First is geography. The way I think about it, geography is the science that underpins the entire “geo” technology industry, as well as others. It is the theoretical, mathematical, and scientific construct that defines the boundaries of the sandbox in which we play. Because it’s a science, those boundaries are always changing and expanding, but that’s simply understood. Without the science of geography, the rest isn’t possible.