The Waldo Tobler GIScience Prize of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) has been created by the ÖAW Commission for GIScience to encourage scientific advancement in the disciplines of Geoinformatics and/or Geographic Information Science.

The prize recognizes the work and celebrates the memory of Professor Waldo Tobler, who repeatedly introduced innovative methods based on digital technologies into geographic research since the 1960s, with an emphasis on theory, mathematical modeling and dynamic visualization. He recently served as professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara and had received numerous distinctions for his lifetime of innovation. Since 1982, Prof. Tobler had been a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. 

Well known through his extensive publication record, he formulated the "First Law of Geography" in 1970 with the phrase “everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things" which inter alia justifies analysis of spatial dependencies, metrics for spatial autocorrelation and spatial organisation in general. Related was his introduction of ‘Cellular Geography’, originally presented in Austria as ‘Schachbrett Geographie’. He is the inventor of novel and unusual map projections, among which was the first derivation of the partial differential equations for area cartograms and the pycnophylactic reallocation of spatial information, underlying his outstanding contributions to a high resolution global demographic information base. Spatial dynamics received Professor Tobler’s special attention, leading to the development of the ‘Flow Mapper’ software and his involvement in the US Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science. Waldo Tobler was a Swiss-American scientist who initially was confronted with aerial photography and cartography in Austria during his military service in the early 1950s and returned to Austria several times since then, including residence as a scholar at IIASA.

Prof Waldo Tobler has passed away in 2018, leaving an outstanding legacy of innovative ideas and core foundations for Geographic Information Science. RIP!

His achievements have been recognized throughout the geospatial community:

The prize will be awarded annually or bi-annually to an individual who, like Waldo Tobler, has exhibited outstanding and sustained contributions to the discipline worthy of inspiring young scientists in Geoinformatics or Geographic Information Science, and has accomplished significant advances in these fields. Qualifications should ideally include achievements in research as well as in education. Recipients of the award are likely to have outstanding stature within the Geoinformatics and Geographic Information Science communities. 

The winner is selected on the basis of international reports.