The Day of the Programmer - Why is programming relevant to geoinformation science?

Posted on September 12, 2021

The Day of the Programmer is held annually on the 256th day of every year; this year it fell on 12 September. Geoinformatics is a broad field that requires you to master various skills to be successful, including programming skills. The geoinformatics programs at the University of Pretoria place a great emphasis from first year on learning to program and this helps teach logical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Programming is integral to geoinformatics because it is so data intensive, specifically spatial data, which can be quite large and the ability to programmatically analyse the data can streamline the process. Employers often highlight programming as a desirable skill in the geospatial field, as it increases efficiency and demonstrates creative problem solving.

On a more personal note, programming has helped me to expand the way that I process information. Having learnt C# in first year and later SQL and Python, it is great to see it all come together spatially when creating web maps for the final year project module, GMT 320. The ability to create a script for data analysis in R has saved me plenty of time during assignments in honours.

As geoinformatics evolves, so will the need for your skills to expand beyond desktop GIS and programming is a great place to begin. With vast online resources available for free, I would recommend learning programming to improve your skills and secure a great job after graduation.

Contributed by Azile Mdleleni

- Author Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology
Published by Christel Hansen

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