Is GIS worth its money? This can (and should) be calculated.

As every year around Christmas, I reach for the “bible” again, i.e. the book “Reflections on GIS. Planning Geographical Information Systems for Managers” by Roger Tomlinson. And like every year, I rediscover it, because with the increase of experience, certain aspects have a different overtone.

Yesterday I was „considering” about the financial aspect of individual functionalities. Especially this year I participated in implementations where GIS was not planned. Only the purchase of GIS software was planned, and instead of the processes to be implemented/supported by GIS, we talked about the functionalities to be delivered and included in the order (I know that inspections, public procurement law, etc.). Unfortunately, these systems will last, operating at 10-15% of their capacity, generating minimal profits for the organization.

Meanwhile, Tomlinson in chapter 11 „Analysis of benefits-costs, migration and risk” beautifully proves that the process approach, i.e. „breaking down” the System into information products (e.g. map, report, tool that supports a specific process in the company) and cost analysis and profits of each of these processes, gives a result, in black and white, indicating whether it is worth taking a given action or not and whether it pays off.


A pipe bursts, water pours out, the water company starts the process of removing the failure. A team with an excavator arrives and starts digging. In the vast majority of cases, they do not know whether there is a power grid, heating network, fiber optics, gas in this place … With a soul in their arms, a copy. Mostly they succeed and do not damage other installations, but sometimes they break optical fiber or cables. Depending on the size of the company, the costs of such repairs are even millions of zlotys.

Meanwhile, if the foreman or excavator operator knew that they could use the Geoportal Mobile application, where they could check the underground network on the basis of orthophotomaps (the National Land Utilities Integration layer), they would know what is under them in a few seconds. You can safely estimate that this knowledge will reduce the amount of damage by 25%. Little? A lot of? Compared to the cost of training with Geoportal Mobile (2h?), in my opinion, it is one of the most effective results.

And going further: if the operator had VR goggles, the data would be in 3D, and the artificial intelligence would guide the excavator, maybe the amount of losses would drop by another 10 percentage points. Would the maintenance of such a system, training and service, be profitable in relation to the benefits?

This question must be answered by the GIS manager in a specific implementation during PLANNING.

On the screen: The utilities network in the vicinity of the GIS Support office in Poznań. GPS position not very accurate, because it was determined from behind the desk. Too cold for „field work” 🙂



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