PostGIS Is So Successful That It Needs To Change Its Name

by Brian Timoney

Like all important debates of our time, this one started with a tweet:

I’m no branding expert (I don’t spend nearly enough money on my haircuts), but it seems to me that if your name includes a specific acronym–“GIS”–perhaps you should pronounce it the way the acronym itself is pronounced.  And while we’re on the topic, how obvious is it to the newcomer that the “Post” relates to the PostgreSQL database?

Don’t get me wrong: I love PostGIS, even to the extent of co-organizing an upcoming “PostGIS Day” here in Denver.  But even at the risk of losing an amusing pun on “GIS Day”, one thing is now crystal clear to me–

PostGIS is so successful it needs a new name.

First, the name recognition of PostgreSQL has increased enormously in recent years:  from only Geek Cred to now widespread Street Cred.  So we need to make that association more explicit.

Then we have the acronym “GIS”.

It needs to go.

The assumption that those who would find a spatially-enabled database useful in 2015 would be familiar with “GIS”–either by education or professional practice–is much too narrow.  And while those of us who have earned our chops via GIS courses and years of desktop software may cringe inwardly, the obvious reality is that increasing numbers of bright and talented people who want to do mappy things and geo-analysis things don’t naturally connect such desires with “GIS”.

So I beseech the caretakers of this extremely valuable piece of open-source geospatial software to choose a new readily- identifiable moniker that captures its dynamic centrality in the ever-evolving mapping industry.

Brian Timoney is an information consultant in Denver, Colorado.