Geographical Information Systems (Gis):

Topics: Geographic information system, ESRI, Investment Pages: 12 (3535 words) Published: September 22, 2009
Geographical Information Systems (GIS):

Worth the Investment?

Angel Leeson


Professor Smith

12 July 2009


Implementing A GIS3

Return on Investment (ROI)4

Vandenberg Air Force Base GIS ROI Study5

Iowa GIS ROI Study8

Baltimore County GIS ROI9

Washington State Department of Transportation ROI Multi-Agency Analysis10




Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are expensive to install initially. The problem with setting up the GIS is obtaining the data, performing quality assurance and quality checks on the data, and getting all the software and hardware to work together. This paper will look at various GIS projects that have been implemented and the benefits or deficits that the organization has seen. Through the examination of towns, counties, and different government entities this paper will examine what the groups found throughout the implementation and any lessons learned that were discovered. This paper will prove that the benefits of implementing a GIS far outweigh the negatives.

Implementing A GIS

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) is defined as an integrated collection of data, hardware, and computer software used to view and manage information about geographic places, analyze spatial relationships, and to model spatial processes.[1] There are many considerations that must be taken into account when implementing a GIS. The system is only as strong as its weakest link, so all aspects are very important.[2] Another important factor, and a major reason many GIS implementations fail, is planning.

According to Roger Tomlinson, who many consider the godfather of GIS, there are ten stages to GIS planning. The first step is to consider the strategic purpose. This will answer what are the goals, objectives, and mandates of the system and the organization. The next step is to plan for the planning. This statement will get the senior management to understand what the expectations are as far as people and resources that the implementation will need. The next planning stage will be to conduct a technology seminar. This is where the implementation team will begin the planning process. The next step is to describe the information products. This is where the team will talk to the stewards of the data to see exactly what is needed. Stage five is to define the system scope. This stage will determine what data to acquire and when it will be needed. Stage six is to create a data design. This is where the database design is performed. The next stage is to choose a logical data model. This is where the team will decide what parts of the real world are of concern to the organization. Stage eight is to determine system requirements. This is where the hardware and software are examined for the first time. The next stage is to determine the benefit-cost, migration, and risk analysis. This is where it is determined how the system will be taken from the planning stage to actual implementation. This is where a benefit-cost analysis may need to be performed to make a business case for the system. This is also where it is determined as to how to migrate existing systems and data into the new GIS. And finally the last stage is to make an implementation plan. This is the final report that will serve as a GIS planning book. This plan will be the result of communication between the GIS team and management.[3] Not performing these steps can lead to harder implementation or a complete failure of a GIS. One important item to remember is that the GIS must have buy-in from upper management.

Return on Investment (ROI)

One of the best ways to determine if a GIS was worth the cost is to perform a return on investment (ROI). An ROI is used to describe the success or failure of a project. ROI studies use a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures to access the utility that...
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