Bill Huxhold (Hux) is a triple threat in GIS. He has been an innovative leader in government, academia, and the GIS profession. Few others have shown this versatility and certainly not at his high level of achievement.
He led the City of Milwaukee’s effort to establish one of the nation’s first GIS as Project Director of the City’s Policy Development Information System (1975-87). His genius was writing specifications that required an interface between the City’s operational databases with computer-aided mapping software to create a GIS. Other cities had computer-aided mapping, but no direct connection to their operational data. He believed in a pyramid of good decisions based on data from the operations of local government. He argued that good management decisions are based on a synthesis of operational data and good policy decisions are based on a synthesis of management data; GIS is critical at each level in the three-layered pyramid. Milwaukee received an Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) award for Huxhold’s Municipal Automated Geographic Information System in 1981, the first year that award was given. His early work was copied by cities across the nation and the concepts continue to be respected and copied.
Huxhold published his popular An Introduction to Urban Geographic Information Systems in 1991, one of the first GIS textbooks and the best one for urban GIS. It was his first step into academia and he joined the faculty of Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee that same year. Other books followed including Managing Geographic Information Systems Projects (1995 with Allan Levinson) and ArcGIS and the Digital City (2002 with Fowler and Parr). His leadership was key in extracting from a divided committee in Chicago the nine principles for success in GIS Guidelines for Assessors (URISA and IAAO 1992) that educate and illuminate still. His research has produced dozens of articles and book chapters. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses while administering the GIS Certificate program that he created in 1991. He chairs the GIS Council that steers the campus-wide education, research, and service efforts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also chairs the Urban Planning department.
Huxhold’s contributions to the GIS profession have been outstanding, too. He has served as president of two professional organizations: URISA (Urban and Regional Information Systems Association, 1984-85) and UCGIS (University Consortium for Geographic Information Science, 2000). He developed model job classifications that informed URISA’s 1st Salary Survey and helped give coherence to the field. Most notably, he led the effort to certify GIS professionals, now institutionalized as the GIS Certification Institute, now certifying nearly 5,000 GIS Professionals across 50 states and 25 countries. He argued that this was the missing piece in making GIS a recognized profession; we had the specialized training, common language, and even culture and lore, but lacked licensing or certification. The GIS Certification Institute is supported by the Association of American Geographers (AAG), the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), the University Consortium of Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), and the Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA).