To set the background
for the Geographical Information
Systems (GIS) at the heart of various local authorities , we
must start by defining the term GIS.
There are many different definitions of GIS.
Michel Didier definition
at the Geographical Information National
Council , 1990 is as follows : “a GIS
is a set of spatial data that allows for the easy extraction of key
information for decision making. The Federal Inter- Agency Coordination for Digital Cartography
Digital Committee (USA-1988)
reads: · “a GIS is a computer hardware, software and process system designed to enable the collection, management, manipulation, analysis, modelling of the reference spatial data
to solve complex planning and management problems. ”
between both definitions ? The second explicitly states that a GIS is a computer system. However an information system does not imply being computerized . If we consider the first definition
as it is , the old cadastre management as paper sheets is, undoubtedly, part of the
Town Hall information: when the user needed the map of his plot he left the Town Hall with
a photocopy of the cadastral
When I hear a territorial manager say “We
will set up a GIS
I start to make him understand there is,
already, and that the proper
sentence is ” We will computerize our current GIS “.
Being fussy? Not quite.
In the first case we make an unconscious obliteration
of the existing one, not at
the document level , but at a personal level
. The newcomer is fully entitled and it is up to each one to give in to its operation
. The second version places the new system
as an evolution of the pre-existing : data , staff, working methods
. It’s up to the software to take into account this reality and adapt to it. The context of both versions is diametrically opposite .
The contribution of GIS software is to enable a global vision of the territories by offering tools allowing the integration of textual
and quantified databases with the
adequate cartographic background . This integration allows a new vision of the territory , richer, more synthetic
, more operational .
When a local authority computerises its GIS, the main goals are :
optimizing the territory
means of the information ”
localisation » whether geographical or not,
the results of different budget or regulatory scenarios
- planning and land use,
- appropriation of territorial map information,
whether external as the cadastre, the networks , or internal such as
the PLU, the roadworks , the green spaces , the heritage ,
- the communication to third parties, to other territorial structures such as the public of information.
the background of setting up a
computerized GIS on a territory it must be highlighted that this project is, always, conceived
in association with others
neighboring local authorities, agents networks,
etc., mainly to share the
starting investiment and to make a better use of the available local skills. The resulting project becomes an exchange crossroads and mutual
knowledge among the partners. The data system is, generally, formed in the public context and become very quickly an element of the community’s heritage,
available for multiple value-creations.
In the next article, we will discuss the contributions of a computerization of the GIS
for a Local Authority .