Friday, July 27, 2007

Two Different Books On GIS Suit Beginners and Non-Technical Executives Very Well (01jun97)

June 1, 1997

The GIS Book, 4th Edition, Understanding the Value and Implementation of Geographic Information Systems, by George Korte, P.E.

GIS: A Visual Approach, by Bruce Davis

These two books explain different aspects of geographic information systems (GIS), but both do a great job of explaining GIS without requiring readers to have a technical background. The GIS Book, 4th Edition explains the core basics of the technology but spends most of its time covering other major factors that really make or break a GIS implementation. This is the book for executives, managers, and users that want the big picture with relevant details and guidelines.

GIS: A Visual Approach, primarily focuses on explaining the technology without jargon and with many diagrams and pictures. The author wrote the book in a way that even non-native English speakers should pick up the technical fundamentals without much trouble. Many of the diagrams and pictures are supplied on accompanying diskettes for computer display, printing, or slide making. While this book is an excellent GIS primer, we feel that it contains information that many of our readers will consider too basic. Therefore, we will concentrate on the other book in this article.

The GIS Book, 4th Edition

This new edition "was written for people who want to know about the selection, implementation, uses, and benefits of GIS, but don’t need to know all of the technical details of how GIS actually works," according to author George Korte, P.E.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part explains the fundamentals of the technology, what can be done with it, and an overview of the GIS industry. The diagrams and pictures included in this section are enough to establish a very basic idea of how CAD, AM/FM, and GIS differ.

The second part provides some very helpful guidance in selecting and implementing a GIS. The step-by-step implementation process diagram is worth the price of the book alone for those getting started. This section also reviews four leading GIS software vendors (ESRI, Intergraph, Landmark Graphics, and MapInfo) using their sales literature minus unsubstantiated claims. No comparisons or evaluations were given but it quickly demonstrated the different competencies of the vendors. Besides, the author happens to work for Intergraph.

The third part reviews key factors about GIS such as financial justification, legal aspects, economics of base map accuracy, and getting CAD data into a GIS. Several case studies are provided as well. The details provided were both interesting and useful.

Some of the more notable points from the book were:

  • A GIS program is neither a small nor simple undertaking (it is very different from selecting a CAD package for a design group).
  • It is far more critical to determine your organization’s needs (not just a department’s needs) for the GIS and decide which GIS package fits this best than it is to determine how the different systems compare each other.
  • The cost of data conversion can range between 60 and 80 percent of the total cost of implementing a GIS. The two most overlooked factors are completing the data entered and checking/correcting it once the data is in the system.
  • Consider teaming up with other companies or organizations in your area to share the cost of creating the GIS database.
  • The root problem for unsatisfactory GIS programs is usually oraganizational and operational issues, not the hardware, software, or a vendor.

We found several small mistakes regarding computer technology in the GIS Book, but these were not critical to its explanation of GIS.

Contact: Onword Press, 888-763-8786, 505-474-5120,