GIS and Local Authorities (2) – Contributions of a GIS

The contributions of a GIS for the territorial management

Internal contributions

Information is a key factor for territorial management: the more available and adequate information exists; the more well suited management decisions can easily be taken.
The internal information management can be clearly improved, allowing more frequent updates by improving its quality, validity, and overall consistency. New data can be managed and used . The pre-existent data can be better managed at a lower staff related cost. Policymakers can rely on reliable information, but , most importantly,  well suited to their territorial views and decision making mechanisms.

Partners related contributions

The synergy of a geographical reference frame allows faster exchanges, more frequent and reliable with community partners. Both, network managers and neighbouring
communities, can access to each other’s information is made accessible and reliable through GIS.

Public related contributions

These contributions are visible under two main GIS features: the improvement of speed and suitability
of documents provided by the community, the possibility to enrich all community communication tools (publications, posters, websites, …)
with effective
information vectors ( maps , graphics , …)

GIS application areas

Firstly, we must make a distinction about what we include under the term “Information “. Under this term we find three concepts:

  • The data : ie the measurements undertaken or obtained from third parties (analysis
    results , direct measurements , etc. ). It is an objective
    and basic observation of a parameter .
  • The information: it is the result of data processing. This treatment synthesizes or classifies the data
    in order to as to match data a more elaborate observational concept, but always objectively. It is built from “indicators”
  • The knowledge: it is the integration of several information to understand a feature of the territory . This integration is inevitably subjective and depends on the person who performs it .

Let’s discuss an example : The results of a water source  analysis such as the concentration of nitrates, phosphates, etc., are typically data. They are used to classify water as either drinkable or
non-drinkable water. To decide if the water from this source is/is not of good quality ( knowledge ) is going depend on the observer : of the amount of information he uses and the relevance given to each piece of

Another way to classify GIS applications is to distinguish between management and decision applications . Among the firsts we find all operations that have a constant nature: the cadastre management, updated plots and owners, etc, it is never ending.. Among the seconds we find the operations that have a specific and delimited purpose in time: the creation of a business area, for example, it implies operations that will be used to make the decision for its creation , location, etc. , but that will not be repeated .

The territorial management applications

Even though they are very numerous , we can mention the main applications at Municipalities and Communities level.
The first that comes to mind is the cadastral management and  land use plan. Compared to the cadastral sheet management, GIS provides the possibility of having a single continuous map of the entire community territory. On the other hand, the user access simultaneously and integrally to the map information charts and matrix textual information. The user is, no longer, limited vis- à-vis to the visualization scale and can use the thematic GIS classification tools to highlight a particular aspect .
The second most common type of applications is managing networks and community facilities. Based on the cadastral plan, all the networks can be managed consistently . Not only has immediate inventory of all types of public facilities, but also a way to manage all interventions on the networks water , sanitation , lighting , ditches , etc.

Territorial decision applications.

Thanks to management applications , the community has enough data and information to consider the decision support. Charts allow the monitoring of the population
and habitat evolution, the development zones, the agricultural fabric , etc. These charts are used to build special development
projects that can be validated by GIS simulation scenarios.

In the next article we will discuss the strategy for the computerization of Local Authority GIS.

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