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Roger Tomlinson Named Recipient of GITA's 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award

June 7, 2010
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The award, the highest honor the association can bestow, recognizes an individual’s lifelong contributions and long-standing commitment to the geospatial industry. 

Phoenix, Arizona - The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) announced today that Dr. Roger Tomlinson of Ottawa, Ontario, has been given GITA's 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award. The award, the highest honor the association can bestow, recognizes an individual’s lifelong contributions and long-standing commitment to the geospatial industry. The presentation was made during GITA’s Annual Conference 30, held April 25-29, 2010, at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dr. Tomlinson, a native of Cambridge, England, is recognized as the primary originator of modern computerized Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and has been touted as the "father of GIS". He attended the University of Nottingham in England and Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada, receiving separate undergraduate degrees in geography and geology, respectively.  He received a Masters degree in geography from McGill University in Montreal,where he specialized in the glacial geomorphology of Labrador. He received his Doctorate from University College in London.

Dr. Tomlinson's early private sector career included managing the computer mapping division at Spartan Air Services in Ottawa, Ontario and then working with the Government of Canada, first as a consultant and later as a director of regional planning systems with the Department of Forestry and Rural Development.

It was during his tenure with the federal government in the 1960s that Dr. Tomlinson initiated, planned and directed the development of the Canada Geographic Information System, the first computerized GIS in the world.

From the 1970s to present, Dr. Tomlinson has worked in geographic consulting and research for a variety of private sector, government and non-profit organizations, largely through his Ottawa-based company, Tomlinson Associates Ltd., which has branches with consulting geographers in Canada, the United States, and Australia.

He served as Chairman of the International Geographical Union GIS Commission for 12 years, during which time he pioneered the concepts of worldwide geographical data availability as Chairman of the IGU Global Database Planning Project in 1988. He is a past president of the Canadian Association of Geographers and a recipient of their rare award for Service to the Profession.  Included among his many international awards are the Association of American Geographers’ James R. Anderson Medal of Honor for Applied Geography in 1995 and the first Robert T. Aangeenbrug Distinguished Career Award in 2005. Dr. Tomlinson is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and winner of their Murchison Award for the Development of Geographic Information Systems. In 1996 he was awarded the GIS World Lifetime Achievement Award and he was the first recipient of the ESRI Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

His academic recognition includes being made a fellow of University College London and receiving honorary Doctorates of Science from the University of Nottingham, Acadia University, and McGill University. He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and was awarded the Order of Canada by the Governor General for "changing the face of geography as a discipline."

GITA Executive Director Robert M. Samborski, noting that Dr. Tomlinson’s professorial duties at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico precluded his appearance in Phoenix, said, “GITA is honored to have Dr. Roger Tomlinson among the recipients of the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Unquestionably, his early and continuing contributions to the geospatial industry, academia and government are without peer.  It’s accurate to say that without Roger Tomlinson’s extensive body of work, many of us would not be doing what we do today.”

For more information about GITA’s Awards Program, visit, call 303-337-0513, or e-mail

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