APWA Book Review

Implementing Successful Geographic Information Systems

This handbook is designed to assist people interested in using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to better manage resources, address customer needs and satisfaction, or integrate operations with other services and programs in a public works environment.

The major focus of this handbook is to identify the role GIS can play in today's environment (i.e., how to use this technology to your advantage). Implementing GIS typically requires selling the concept to decision makers, funding the hardware and development cost, and sorting through a myriad of technical and institutional issues. An emphasis is given in this report to implanting consortium systems, a centralized tool that is used by different (and diverse) agencies and departments in a community to meet their geo-based information needs.

By nature and training, many public works officials seek to maximize efficiency through the use of templates, standard procedures that will work over and again. However, every local combination of physical, financial and political factors is unique to its own location. Therefore, rather than present an exact method, this handbook will focus on how to fund, organize, implement and operate a GIS, offering guidelines, examples, techniques, and cautionary tales from the trenches. Any perceived emphasis this book places on potential pitfalls should not be construed as a lack of enthusiasm for technology; rather, it is a response to the rosy picture painted by most in the field's literature, much of which is written by vendors and consultants with natural biases in favor of Geographic Information Systems.

This handbook is divided into four chapters:

  • Organizing for Success — emphasizes when appointed officials first consider GIS, through the point in the process where elected officials vote to fund and implement GIS.

  • Resolving Implementation Issues — describes what should happen after approval and funding, but before actually purchasing a system.

  • Making GIS Happen — discusses how to purchase and start a system, through the technique for successful Requests For Proposals (RFPs) and pilot projects.

  • Maintaining the System — discusses maintenance and policy issues that commence once a GIS is functioning.
Also included are sample GIS applications, case studies and examples of GIS products.

Other related GIS publications available through APWA include:

  • Beyond Maps: GIS and Decision Making in Local Government
  • Urban Planning and Development of Applications of GIS
  • Transportation GIS
  • Confronting Catastrophe: A GIS Handbook
For more information on purchasing any of these books or other American Public Works Association books, please visit the APWA Bookstore on-line at www.apwa.net/bookstore or call the Member Services Hotline at 1-800-848-APWA (2792), ext. 3560.