Problem Definition


  1. Introduction
  • In most cases, the design, purchase and implementation of a GIS( Geological Information System) is a significant commitment in terms of personnel time and money
  • it is extremely important to understand the issues involved in the development of GISs
  • these issues will ultimately affect the efficiency and value of the installed GIS
  • it is possible to identify several stages in the development of a GIS
  • these can be characterized in several ways
  • the following general outline serves as an organizing framework for the next 6 units:
  • development progresses through the following stages
  • note that these are not necessarily sequential and some may operate concurrently with others
  1. Problem recognition and technological awareness
  • a necessary beginning point
  1. Developing management support
  • critical to the initiation and success of the project
  1. Project definition
  • includes identifying the current role of spatial information in the organization, the potential for GIS, determining needs and products, writing the proposal
  1. System evaluation
  • includes reviewing hardware and software options, conducting benchmark tests, pilot studies and cost benefit analysis
  1. System implementation
  • includes completion of a strategic plan, system development and startup, design and creation of the database, securing on-going financial and political support
  • this unit looks at the two least formal and unstructured initial stages: needs awareness and building management support
  1. Problem Recognition/Technological Awareness
  • in order for an organization to become interested in acquiring a GIS, someone or some group within the organization: 1. must perceive that the methods by which they are currently storing, retrieving and using information are creating problems 2. must be aware of the capabilities of GIS technology

Problem Recognition

  • Aronoff (1989) suggests six problems that prompt GIS interest
  1. spatial information is out of date or of poor quality
  • g. often land information documents (maps and lists) are seriously outdated and questions regarding the current situation cannot be answered without digging through a stack of “updates” since the last major revisions
  1. spatial data is not stored in standard formats
  • g. a city’s parcel maps will often vary in quality from one area to another
  • one area may have been flown” and mapped using aerial photography at 1:1000 scale some years ago, but updated by hand drafting
  • other areas may have been mapped by photographically enlarging 1:24,000 topographic maps, or city street maps of unknown quality, and hand drafting parcel boundaries
  • maps may have been reproduced by methods which introduce significant errors, e.g. photocopy
  1. several departments collect and manage similar spatial data
  • this may result in different forms of representation, redundancies and related inefficiencies in the collection and management of the data
  1. data is not shared due to confidentiality and legal concerns
  2. analysis and output capabilities are inadequate
  3. new demands are made on the organization that cannot be met within the data and technological systems currently available.

Suppypush factors

  • changes in technological infrastructure
  • improvements in technological capability
  • in GIS: improved hardware, software, peripherals; better access to existing digital datasets, e.g. TIGER files
  • declining price-performance ratios
  • in GIS: impact of introduction of 286- and 386-based PCs, workstations, reduction in cost of mainframes and minis
  • improved packaging of technical components to perform useful tasks
  • in GIS: better (more friendly, more versatile) user interfaces, better applications software
  • concerted marketing efforts of suppliers
  • advertising creates an aura of necessity
  • in GIS: hard not to go with the current trend, in spite of the fact that GIS advertising is probably low-key relative to other areas of EDP
  • direct contact of salespeople with potential buyers
  • in GIS: demonstrations at trade shows, presentations at conferences by vendors
  • long-term strategies of technology suppliers
  • selective phase-outs – vendor drops support of existing system to encourage new investment
  • price reductions or outright donations to universities to raise students’ familiarity with product
  • low-cost or cost-free pilot studies offered by vendors at potential customer’s. site
  • interchange – at present, there are high costs to conversion from one GIS vendor’s system to another’s – customers are “locked in”

Demandpull Factors

  • endemic demand for accomplishing routine tasks
  • need for faster and more accurate data handling in report generation, queries, map production, analysis
  • society’s appetite for information is unlimited
  • in GIS, there is no upper limit to need for spatial data for decision-making
  • there is no totally satisfactory minimum level of accuracy for data
  • more accurate data always means better decisions
  • demand
  • “keeping current” with technology
  • maintaining systems on which the organization has become dependent
  • affective demand
  • perceived need among organizational actors to exploit the political, entertainment and other potentials of the technology
  • in GIS: GIS technology is impressive in itself – high quality, color map output, 3D displays, scene generation – GIS output may be perceived to have greater credibility than hand-drawn products

Collecting Information on GIS

  • once the need for GIS is recognized, an individual or group may begin gathering information on GIS in order to develop a management proposal
  • information will need to be collected on:
  • the status of existing GIS projects
  • the direction the GIS industry is moving
  • the potential applications of GIS in the organization
  • sources of information include:
  • personnel within the company
  • “missionaries” or GIS proponents may have familiarity through educational background, external contacts
  • industry consultants, system vendors, conversion service companies will be very willing to provide information
  • industry organizations such as AM/FM International or American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) are excellent sources a growing number of newsletters and magazines are being marketed within the GIS industry
  • a useful mechanism is a Request for Information (RFI)
  • sent by the company to all known vendors of GIS software
  • should ask for:
  • general company information
  • system capabilities
  • hardware and software requirements
  • customer references
  • general functional capabilities
  • example applications
  • customer support – training and maintenance programs
  • general pricing information
  • site visits to operating GIS projects are useful
  • can observe the daily operations of the project gain insight from project personnel abbut system performance and support

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