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GIS Survey: An Analysis

Analysis of the online GISsurvey conducted on www.GISdevelopment.net 

April 10th, 2000, witnessed the innauguration of the first GIS portal from India www.GISdevelopment.net. It was launched with an objective to bridge the information gap between the vast community of GIS professionals, end users of GIS, research scholars and students and further encourage the use of GIS in the Asian Region. Since its inception, the portal has captured the interest of the entire Asian region and has become a useful GIS resource centre. This realisation came when GISdevelopment.net conducted an online survey to understand the needs and requirements of the GIS users all over the world. The response to the survey was exhilarating as people from all over the globe took part in the survey. The results of the survey will help in deciding the future roadmap of the portal.

The highlights of the questionaire the participants had to fill to take part in the survey are as follows:

  • The first few queries were regarding participants personal information which included the participants name, country and educational qualifications.
  • The participants were also required to submit information regarding their formal training in GIS, years of experience and the source the participants look forward to find information about GIS.
  • The next part of the survey asked for information about the participants organisation, area of specialisation of the organisation as well as information about the number of employees using GIS in their organisation.
  • The final part of the survey was prepared mainly to know the participants views regarding GISdevelopment.net.

The analysis reflects the opinion of the online participants and not necessarily the general users. Also, the maximum participation in the survey was from India and so the results become skewed if the Indian results are combined with any other results. In order to avoid this discrepancy results have been divided into three categories: India, Asia (excluding India) and World (excluding India). Analysis of the Survey
A total of 814 GIS users throughout the world took part in the survey which was conducted from 1st August, 2000 to 31st August 2000. Analysis of the information provided by the participants helped us to come to the following conclusions:

  • In Asia, China leads the way which shows a strong influence of GIS in China. Here we can see the growing influence of the regionally developed GIS softwares. In the world scenario, US leads the way as is expected.
  • From the survey it is clear that GIS is popular amongst Post Graduate(PG) / Masters all over the world (Fig. 1). Going by the triangular structure of numbers of UG, PG and PhD’s, the UG are yet to use GIS in their area of specialisation. The awareness and usage of GIS by PG’s also reflects the confinement of GIS to research labs.
  • GIS analysts play a major role in utilising GIS according to the world scenario (Fig. 2). However, in India, GIS is used equally by decision makers, project leaders as well as GIS analysts. This can be seen as a positive trend as GIS is a relatively new field in India and its penetration and use is spreading equally among all the important sections of the GIS users.
  • Maximum number of participants have an experience of 2-3 years in the field of GIS (Fig. 3). But the figure brings out another discrepancy. Participants with experience of one or less number of years decreased sharply. This does not indicate that GIS is becomming unpopular, but shows that new professionals are perhaps less exposed to the sources of information about GIS or are perhaps on their way to acquire skills to master GIS and as a result are in a way in their “incubation” period and within a year they will mature into GIS professionals. The response of the participants also shows that the GIS gained popularity about 7-10 years back, i.e. between 1990 and 1993. In India, however, GIS had a late start and became popular only two to three years back, i.e. between the year 1997 and 1998. The possible reason for this is the late introduction of IT in India as compared to the rest of the world.
  • Many of the participants from Asia as well as the world have undergone some formal training in GIS. However, most of the Indian participants have not undergone any formal training in GIS. This can be attributed to the fact that GIS training is very expensive and generally most of the Indian companies have inhouse training programmes for their employees before assigning the main jobs. Hence most of the Indian GIS users have informal training rather than the formal one.
  • Most of the participants from India are from the private sector (Fig. 4). The private companies are located in the metropolitan cities, where the awareness about such programmes is more and hence they are more interested in such surveys. Moreover, the internet accessibility is poor in other areas as compared to the metropolitan cities. This could be the reason of lower participation from the Government sector in India
  • GIS as a tool is used mostly in Environmental Planning, Natural Resources Management, Land Information System and Urban Development (Fig. 5). This leaves out the scope for an increased use of GIS in other potential areas.
  • The participants mostly use Internet to access information and information about GIS. As a result of which the online magazines are very popular. But, this does not rule out or decrease the popularity of print media. GIS magazines and books continue their stronghold but only second to Internet.
  • The survey reveals that information on “Application of GIS” and “Technology update” are the most sought after information. However policy issue does not attract attention mostly because only a specific segment of the user is actually interested in dealing with the policy issues and as a result it fails toimpress the general users of GIS.
  • Most of the participants remarks are good for the content quality and fair for the designing of the GISdevelopment.net website.

Concluding Remarks
The survey information has proved to be an important source of information about the trends of GIS use. The Survey team would like to thank all the participants as the success of the survey is attributed to the contribution of the participants valuable time and patience in filling the survey questionnaire.n

[email protected] Team