Geographic Information System GIS And Client Server System And The US Government Case Study

Length: 12 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Geography Type: Case Study Paper: #64769544 Related Topics: Moby Dick, Urban Geography, Information Assurance, Government Agencies
Excerpt from Case Study :

Client server systems are a group of inter-related subsystems which collaborate together to provide a specific solution or service. This computing model structures diverse and distributed applications, which separates tasks between the providers (servers) and service seekers (clients). Keeping the purpose of this paper in view, the provider-server is the Geographical Informative System and the client is the U.S. government. This paper analyzes Geographical Informative System (GIS) as its client server system. GIS are quite pricey with respect to installation. The primary concern while setting up GIS is:

Attaining the data

Performing quality assurance tests

Quality checks on data

Syncing hardware and software

This case study will go through many GIS projects implemented over the years by various U.S. government agencies. It has tremendous benefits to U.S. organizations, which have gone ahead and implemented them successfully. There are tons of benefits can attained from GIS, by both public and private sector alike as this client server system has least demerits as of yet. The case study will look at counties, towns and government organizations as they implemented GIS in their domains and reaped the rewards.

GIS: Definition and tons of applications

Geographic information systems or geospatial information system (GIS) is a convenient tool for capturing, analyzing, managing and presenting data which is linked to locations. In layman terms, GIS is all about combining cartography, database technology and statistical analysis. GIS systems are employed in cartography, remote sensing, land surveying, public utility, management, natural resource management, geography, urban planning, photogrammetry, emergency management, navigation, aerial video and local search engines.

GIS is a system capable of digitally creating and manipulating spatial areas which could be purpose oriented, jurisdictional oriented and application oriented for the particular GIS developed. So, all in all, one particular GIS won't work with a certain application, jurisdiction, purpose and enterprise with another GIS catering to completely different application, purpose, jurisdiction and enterprise.

Behind the curtains, GIS is a spatial data infrastructure (SDI), an idea with no boundaries. In layman terms, it means a system that is capable of storing, integrating, editing, analyzing, sharing and displaying geographic information for varied purposes. GIS applications assist users in making interactive inquiries, like editing maps; analyzing spatial information and showing results when required.

For example, GIS is able to assist the emergency planners to conduct rescue operations with relative ease and moving them to a secure location. GIS is capable of pointing out wetlands requiring protection from wetlands, finding new possible locations and mapping new trends untapped yet. GIS is now being operated in tons major offices and companies and is taught in many universities and certification programs.

GIS and its history

In 1950, an American reconnaissance satellite (spy satellite) took photos inside USSR, which were denied later on. But then USSR replied with their Sputnik I satellite as the U.S. realized it had entered unchartered territory and that Negotiations were out of the question now. Corona satellite system was developed for hindering the arms race, prevent rumors and keep an eye on USSR (Peters, 2008).

After the thirteenth launch, the Corona satellite finally became a success, meaning it worked 100%. The Corona satellite was declassified much later in 1996; after forty years of its secret operation. Later improvements and enhancements enabled better longer missions, better resolution and picture enlargement capability. Apart from the Corona system, there were other projects too being worked on in 1950's such as Reconnaissance Balloon Programs including Project Gopher. Then, there was Project Moby Dick, which was a recovery system for film canisters when they were dropped from C-119 flying boxcars cargo planes (Peters, 2008).

Apart from that, Airplane Reconnaissance Programs consisted of spy planes flying at low heights for taking USSR photos. There was a U2 spy plane, which flew at high altitudes. Skunkwork was another such spy plane taking photos of denied areas of USSR. But the balloon systems were a bit unreliable and ended up taking photos of Siberia...


Finally, Sputnik I was launched in space in 1957, which speeded up the satellite race. A separate history of GIS is not recorded because it evolved from different projects made separately. In layman words, GIS gives an individual location many layers and gives a worthy understanding of the area. The analysis of an area depends on the purpose, as it can entail looking out for a new store, considering environmental damage or perhaps observing same crime with a particular trend etc. (Peters, 2008).

GIS has come a long way now from Cro-Magnon hunter photos to proper definition and layered photos of locations of requirement. The digital maps are very well detailed. GIS has evolved from writings on the cave to proper analysis, storage, capturing and showing geographically referenced place. Thus, more knowledge has come with technology and it has enabled us to achieve safe goals and respond to damage control and crisis situations in an orderly manner (Peters, 2008).

Enforcing GIS in an American government agency

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) means a joint collection of hardware, data and computer software for viewing and managing information pertaining to geographic places, working out spatial relationships and modelling spatial processes (Tasha and Shelly, 2006). GIS entails taking many considerations beforehand since the system can be strong and weak as well. Some GIS systems fail, because they lack planning all stages of planning are critically important (Peters, 2008).

Roger Tomlinson, who is the father of GIS, asserts that there are ten phases of GIS planning. The first phase is to gauge the strategic aim, which entails the goals, aims and objectives, along with mandates of GIS and company. The planning stage is crucial as the upper management will be taken in the loop in order for resources to be singled out implemented. Subsequently, the implementation team begins the planning stage and defining the product along with GIS requirements. Stage five is the system scope, which determines the usage of data and filtering out unnecessary data. Thereafter, in the next stage, the team designs the data, selects a logical model and decide which parts of GIS are required and which aren't. The eighth stage is the system requirements wherein the hardware and software are assessed for the very first time. The subsequent stage is to determine the cost-benefit, migration, as well as risk analysis. The planning stage and final implementation are highly important for GIS and its success. The benefit-cost analysis is also needed for making it a viable business product. Then, the present systems must be synced with the final stage, which obviously is the implementation stage. (Tomlison, 2008). If these stages aren't carried through, then implementation becomes very hard and the project many end up failing due to this reason.

Return on Investment (ROI)

The best way to find out, whether GIS is worth the effort or not, is to calculate its return on investment (ROI). ROI shows success and failure of any project. In case of ROI studies, both qualitative as well as quantitative measures are used to determine the advantages a company stands to gain from an investment. It is noteworthy that ROI entails ten steps. The first one is to prepare for ROI project and to do so a team is created, which works from start of the project right up to the end. Subsequently, business opportunities are identified wherein ROI teams work with potential stakeholders and view the challenges and opportunities at hand. Thereafter, business opportunities are compartmentalized, which is a small step wherein tasks are created and aligned accordingly. In the final phase building of GIS takes place, which entails activities, outcomes, key objectives, time frames and deliverables (Maguire et al., 2008).

Fifth step defines project control, which aims to create able governance and make a high performance team. The budget of GIS projects is defined and allocated in the next step. Seventh step involves, calculating the merits, benefits and potential limitations of the project. Eighth step involves making a road map of completion, which shows the project timeline, merits, milestones, budget and certainly project completion date. Calculating the financial metrics is crucial and in the next step, financial metrics are weighed. Then, last step entails presenting and compiling report wherein All the work prepared is showcased (Maguire et al., 2008).

GIS ROI for the U.S. Vandenberg Air Force Base

Vandenberg Air Force Base had developed a GIS plan. Vandenberg was ahead of its time and tabulated their data, for the most expensive GIS project yet. This was accomplished in two ways. First method was to attain aerial view with proper spatial accuracy and digitize features on top of aerial. The GIS program was implemented in 2001 as Air Force makes use of mapping and surveying. At that time, the program was called Geo Base, but now it's Installation Geographical Information and Systems (IGI&S). Another way is to take survey team and GPS unit team in field and gather the features. This takes time and costs moneyas well. Vandenberg gathered imagery and executed heads-up digitizing. These layers are still used in…

Sources Used in Documents:


Freeman, M. (2008). Government Technology, available from

Giglierano, J. (2009). Iowa Geographic Information Council, 20 May 2009, available from

Leidner, A. (2007). American City & County: Payback Figures, available from

Maguire D. et al., eds. (2008). The Business Benefits of GIS: An ROI Approach (Redlands, CA:ESRI Press), 3-10.
Poplin, J et al. (2007). Baltimore County GIS Strategic Business Plan Presentation, available from
Sterba, R. (2007). Baltimore County GIS Strategic Business Plan, available from

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