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Sample Research Proposal on Geospatial Information System




A geographic information system (GIS) is commonly defined as "a geospatial information system is a system for capturing, storing, analyzing and managing data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to the earth" ( A geographic information system is a complete computer system that links information about where things are located with information about what particular data represents. Unlike a paper map where "what you see is what you get," a GIS map can combine many layers of information.


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) represent one option and offer a computerized database management system for the storage, retrieval, analysis, and display of spatial (map) data (Antenucci et. al., 1991). These systems can be distinguished from other computer mapping and computer-aided design (CAD) tools because they: 1) use modern coordinate systems to define the positions of features on the earth's surface so that they can be accurately represented in the database, 2) fully integrate map and attribute data, and 3) provide spatial analysis tools unavailable in most other software packages.


GIS technology began in the late 1960's when mapmakers realize that the information on traditional maps had the inertia and viscosity of all analog or continuous information, and they began, with still undeveloped information technology, to convert information from maps into crisp and easily manipulated bits. Eventually, mapmakers came up with the grid that at the beginning of the modern era had helped to make the world be easily surveyed, and they set out to render reality understandable.


GIS can supply individuals and organizations with powerful information. GIS is, therefore, about modeling and mapping the world for improved decision making. GIS can be used from simple contact mapping to consumer analysis to complex enterprise systems that are part of an organization's overall enterprise resource planning structure. GIS can be a transformational device for any organization if it is used wisely.




A. General Use of GIS


According to Foote and Lynch (2006), GIS can compile maps, satellites, surveys, and aerial photos; retrieve and manipulate these data; analyze spatial statistics; and report maps and plans relative to this information.


B. Benefits of GIS for the Local Government


Municipal and local state offices as well as federal agencies are constantly concerned with land-related decisions pertaining to real property, infrastructure development and land use; community crimes; inadequate transportation; environmental pollution; and updates in geographic information. The collation and storage of these data can be effectively managed through the Geographic Information Systems (Ventura , 1995).


GIS software combines map and attribute data and affords local governments new opportunities for integration in that these data can be processed together as a single product with little manual intervention (Harvey, 2003). Hence, these systems can be used to integrate information from many different sources (engineering, finance, and planning departments) and at many different levels of responsibility (operations, management, and policy levels) in an organization. This integration is possible because geography is a common reference used by virtually every activity in local government, whether it be to find a water main valve, set property tax assessments, or begin a new solid waste recycling program (Huxhold, 1991).


C. The Use of GIS in Information Integration and Analysis at the Local Authorities


GIS application in the local government starts with the establishment of a centralized database which includes data regarding the locality such as housing locations, service facilities, and road networks as well as various information from the engineering, finance, business, and public services sectors  (Wilson,1995).


The primary notion of GIS application in the local government is the requirement that local government agencies from the different counties and municipalities will make their geographic information freely available to government offices at the regional, state and federal levels in a process called "vertical integration" (Wilson,1995).


According to several literatures, local governments especially the planning departments are still acquiring geographic information system although it is costly. (Lang, 1990; Juhl, 1989; Florida ACIR, 1989; French and Wiggins, 1990; Wiggins and Van Buren, 1990; Wiggins, 1993; Budic, 1993b; Masser, 1993; Onsrud and Pinto, 1993). This observation has been related to the perceived positive value of the local government to the capabilities and effectiveness of this new technology. According to Dueker (1987) and Guptill (1989), "in contrast to the other computerized system such as the thematic mapping or computer-aided design, geographic information system offers much more benefits such as it has the ability to store, relate, and manipulate attribute and spatial data."

Most successful GIS applications utilize geographically-referenced data as well as non-spatial data and include operations that support spatial analysis. Two database models are commonly employed: 1) the raster GIS divides the world into a series of pixels or cells, and 2) the vector GIS represents the world as a series of points, lines, and areas. The latter database model will usually be required for GISs that are constructed from land records and applied to city and county government. Thus, address matching, buffering, and overlay capabilities are found in many different GIS software packages and they are used here to illustrate how some of the spatial operations could be applied to local government projects.


A GIS is a particular type of information system that can be applied to geographical data. It is not surprising, therefore, to find that GIS is commonly applied to help with the management of land and other resources, transportation, retailing, and other spatially-distributed entities, and that the connection between the elements in the system is geography  such as location, proximity, spatial distributions, and others. The number and variety of local government GIS applications can be increased as more and more data are brought into a GIS format and its analytical tools are applied to these data.


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