Organization Benefits to Creating Online GIS Sub-Groups

In this essay, Olivia Harne discusses how creating GIS sub-groups that align with the professional interests of the members can promote a more efficient work environment for completing geographic projects.  

Organizations that have a department dedicated to GIS or geographic planning may find themselves with individuals who are far more oriented towards programming, with other employees more geared towards online development and public engagement. While both focus on geographic systems, placing them together into a singular group can lead to a conflict of interest; especially between those who want to adapt to the newest technology, and those that are more averse to potential change that could negate portions of their skill set on the job. Programmers may want to take a project and spend time customizing it from scratch, while others may want to complete a project using simpler tools with a quicker turnaround.

Creating a Balance Between Long Term Customized Projects and Quick Projects

I’ve noticed that individuals who are more oriented towards programming may work better if they are placed into an environment wherein employees of a similar mindset are able to all work on projects given solely to them. Oppositely, a separate sub-department or grouping can be put together to focus on online GIS specifically, so an organization can have a continuously updating, current representation of their publicly oriented data.

Keeping online information as up-to-date as possible is a necessity for civic organizations, and while developing these maps and applications from scratch may allow for more customization, it can also be a hindrance to completing projects in a reasonable time frame. Starting from the ground up often attributes itself to lengthy meetings and debates on each progressive decision. That can be appropriate for companies working with clients that have a specific vision for their data, but alternatively it can serve as a stumbling block for public engagement. For organizations just approaching the topic of Open Data Sites and Community Hubs, that level of discussion can be discouraging – on top of providing an easy way to postpone what is initially perceived as a “difficult” project, to the detriment of public engagement.

Divide and Conquer GIS Projects

By designating specific projects that are appropriate for a prolonged span of deliberation, it frees up other work that can easily be completed through online tools Allowing this – potentially smaller – group adjacent to programmers that focus solely on online GIS, will enable a larger number of projects to be completed in a shorter amount of time.

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