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Mississippi funds statewide GIS s/w site license programme

Jackson, MS, USA – The Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS) and the Geospatial Council of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) announced that the state of Mississippi has funded the geospatial statewide software site license programme for the 2008-09 academic year. As one of Mississippi’s most notable and successful activities in the geospatial arena, the geospatial software programme provides remote sensing and GIS software learning packages for use at all Institutions of Higher Learning and Community and Junior Colleges at no cost to the individual institutions.

The total cost for FY09 for the State of Mississippi is $260,000, including software and administrative expenses. The total product value for FY09 is almost $25 million. This value is the amount that would be charged for the software without the site license agreement, representing quite a substantial savings for the state.

“We are so pleased that the Mississippi Legislature recognises the importance of this programme to help ensure that an educated, well-trained workforce is available to address the growing workforce development needs of the geospatial industry,” stated Dr. Greg Easson, EIGS Executive Director.

As the first of its kind in the U.S., this programme was established in 1999 for remote sensing/GIS software with three industry-leading vendors – ESRI, ERDAS, and ITT Visual Information Systems. Other states have since followed Mississippi’s lead in having such a progressive programme that serves the entire statewide public higher education community. The programme is funded through EIGS and managed by the MS Automated Resource Information System (MARIS) under the direction of the IHL Geospatial Council. The site licenses are designated for educational and research purposes and allow for unlimited copies of the software at all 8 public universities and all 15 community and junior colleges.

Including software extensions and modules, almost 22,000 licenses have been issued since the programme began in 1999. With over 1,000 licenses utilised in 1999, the programme increased to a peak of over 3,400 in 2006 and has since leveled off during the past two years to approximately 2,500 annually.

“Over the past couple of years, the use of the extension modules have increased by 125 percent showing more complex courses being taught requiring the more specific modules to be licensed,” stated Jim Steil, Director of MARIS and Chair of the IHL Council. “This demonstrates the increase in the number of students tackling advanced topics and tasks utilizing the extensions and also the diversity of new projects that the campuses are involved with.”

“This software programme is a resource that is critical to the research, development, and training mission of the participating universities and community colleges as well as the continued growth of the geospatial industry,” said Easson. “The software is being used as part of curricula, supporting research applications by faculty, helping graduate and undergraduate students complete research projects, and training the next generation of employees for Mississippi’s geospatial industry.”