GIS Needs Assessment

GIS stands for Geographical (or Geospatial) Information System. It is a computer system designed to capture, store, manage, and display various types of spatial or geographical data. With the help of GIS, this information can be visually presented, analyzed, and interpreted in a way that allows us to understand relationships, patterns, and trends more easily.

In simpler terms, GIS is a fusion of geography, information technology, and information management systems. These systems find their use in cartography, remote sensing, geodesy, photogrammetry, geography, urban planning, emergency management, navigation, etc.

The visual representations of data provided by GIS techniques can help detect patterns and trends that may otherwise go unnoticed. This data can also be expanded to include more objective means of measurement in various scientific fields and industries. This is accomplished by applying GIS analytical tools to otherwise disparate sets of data.

What Are The Major Areas Of GIS Application?

GIS can be successfully applied in many areas of public importance:

  • Public works and infrastructure management (roads, water, sewerage systems);
  • Analysis of crime patterns, emergency management, fire prevention, and military applications;
  • Exploration and extraction of various minerals, petroleum, and mining activities;
  • Global disease prevalence and spread;
  • Airline route and transport route planning;
  • Management of health systems and centers;
  • Programming, data, and application development in the geospatial industry;
  • Retail site selection and site evaluation in real estate and marketing;
  • Demographic analysis, market penetration, share analysis, and site selection;
  • Farm management, pest and disease tracking, crop monitoring, yield prediction, and soil analysis in agriculture;
  • Redistricting, analysis of election results and predictive models in political science.

Why Are GIS Assessments Conducted?

Any implementation of GIS technology must be preceded by an assessment of its feasibility, usefulness, and potential benefits. GIS needs assessment questions serve as a useful tool to help you achieve this.

GIS assessments can be conducted in varying degrees of detail and with specific purposes in mind, depending on the project requirements. For instance, they may focus on the strategic benefits & risks or business process improvement.

Assessments can also be prompted by external factors such as changes in legislation and applicable standards, or changes in technology and trends of concern for the organization.

GIS - Hemisphere GNSS

GIS assessments can be conducted at different scales, ranging from GIS strategies for a specific project, department, or an entire company.

These assessments should be periodically revised to address possible changes within the company, external factors, or damaging trends.

What Does A GIS Assessment Involve?

A GIS assessment involves comprehensive data gathering, followed by thorough analysis of the current and potential GIS applications. The purpose is to determine how GIS would benefit the organization, identify the needs for technology, and the resultant costs.

The GIS assessment also includes a detailed summary of project findings, a GIS design proposal, and implementation plan.

What Are The Main GIS Needs Assessment Questions?

When assessing the potential needs for GIS technology, there are several main aspects / questions to be considered:

  • How GIS data & tools can help the organization achieve its goals;
  • How to maximize the benefits for the organization;
  • Who the information is intended for and how data will be used;
  • The timeframe - i.e. when this data is needed;
  • How the management and funding of GIS data & tools will work in conjunction with other aspects of IT technology within the organization;
  • The resources needed to accomplish said goals;
  • The benefits, risks, and costs associated with the implementation of GIS technology;
  • The methods used to carry the process to fruition.

These questions serve as the basis for the GIS needs assessment. The assessment itself can be done at different levels of thoroughness, depending on the needs, and is usually divided in several stages.

Conducting A GIS Assessment

The initial step is data collection via extensive interviews with staff from across all departments and areas that may potentially benefit from GIS technology.

The gathered data should provide a detailed view of how geospatial data, tools, and skills could be integrated within the company and reveal their role and connection with other IT aspects. It should also facilitate the preparation of the plan for achieving the desired results.

This is followed by conducting an inventory of the current estate (software licenses, hardware, skills, stakeholders, standards, processes, geospatial data resources, etc).


To communicate the findings with the client, the interviews and other observations are then converted into a detailed report.

The report includes:

  1. a) Description of the organizational context (history with GIS and computer technology), and
  2. b) existing capacity and technology (assessment of staffing and computing capacity, generally and in relation to GIS).

The needs assessment also includes a list of potential GIS applications and functionalities that would be required to accomplish the desired outcome.

The GIS options are presented program by program and for the organization as a whole, as a sort of overview of the role GIS could play in the organization.

Based on prior discussions about the options, the client is presented with a list of GIS priorities for the organization, including a description of how these priorities relate to the company capacities.

The last step involves recommendations and future steps, including:

  • Software, hardware, and human resources that will be required to implement the GIS objectives;
  • Steps and schedule to be followed in order to design and implement a GIS (target dates and milestones for each proposed goal);
  • Estimated implementation costs.

In practice, the complexity of the GIS needs assessment varies depending on the size and profile of the organization. In small companies, it can be done more informally and may not require extensive discussions.

In larger organizations, however, it may require several rounds of interviewing, in-depth discussions, and research to ensure that key issues are being reflected and recognized.

GIS - Geospatial Information System

The geospatial sector is a vast and complex area, and each case must be approached individually. To make sure the GIS needs of our clients are fully met, our geospatial information solutions are meticulously designed to suit the needs of each individual client.

With this approach, you can rest assured you’ll be provided with the best possible GIS solutions for your organization.