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DSE (Department of Sustainability and Environment in Victoria, Australia).
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Selecting an Enterprise GIS Solution
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 17:52
Client Profile: Anthony Draga - Project Manager, Spatial Information
Infrastructure (SII), Department of Sustainability & Environment
How do you choose the right GIS technology for your enterprise? The
Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has been
a long time user of ESRI-based GIS, from the desktop to web mapping.
Like many large organisations, DSE has a large number of officers who
require desktop GIS tools, but seldom use advanced analytical
features. Many of these officers continue to use ArcView 3x although
it is outdated and not supported within DSE.
DSE contracted Spatial Vision to identify the range of cost-effective
alternatives available to fulfil their requirements, including Open
Source GIS. Spatial Vision undertook a market-wide review of desktop
GIS products to understand the range of options available to meet the
Department's functional needs, as well as the associated costs and
resources required to implement any new technology.
The Spatial Vision consultants commenced by working with DSE project
stakeholders to define a comprehensive set of 95 functional and 20
non-functional assessment criteria. This was followed by a desktop
investigation of alternative GIS products against a sub-set of the
In total, 38 individual products were assessed, highlighting three
categories of GIS software: open source, commercial and freeware -
that is free software from commercial proprietors.
Nine products were shortlisted. Each of the shortlisted products were
downloaded, installed and evaluated against the full set of DSE
criteria. The outcome of the evaluation was the selection of two Open
Source GIS products, gvSIG and Quantum GIS, for presentation to DSE
project stakeholders. DSE and DPI officers were then provided with an
opportunity to conduct a hands-on assessment of the useability of the
two products. Overall, Quantum GIS was rated highest in functionality
Compliance Assessment for the 9 Shortlisted Products.
The two Arc products failed to meet the requirement to create and edit
data hence the high non-compliance.
Implementing an alternative GIS product needs to consider more than
just application functionality. Consideration must also be given to
the impacts of the preferred software for data storage and
distribution, symbology standards, and approaches to ensure that
potential users are adequately engaged, trained and supported.
Open Source software may not involve purchase costs but implementation
is another matter. To assist DSE to determine the viability of the
favoured Open Source solution, implementation costs across a five-year
period were compared with those associated with a commercial package.
This investigation confirmed the potential for the Open Source
solution to deliver cost savings but only over the longer term.
DSE is now undertaking a larger trial of Quantum GIS to determine its
suitability. The use of Quantum GIS is not intended to replace DSE's
investment in ArcGIS for more sophisticated analysis, mapping and data
management activities, rather provide a complimentary alternative for
basic view, query and map production tasks.
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