Case Study: GIS Client / Server Systems

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[. . .] This particular tool provides the agency's officers, including managers and technical staff, "with a readily accessible tool to run queries and reports and generate maps vital to the efficient management of drinking water programs under the Safe Drinking Water Act" (ESRI, 2014). As the author further points out, in addition to accessing high-resolution imagery, employees of the agency can also integrate the said imagery "within all ArcGIS Desktop products as well as via the EPA's EnviroMapper and ArclMS Web viewers" (ESRI 2014). This way, real-time solutions are created for an otherwise complex process.

The U.S. Department of the Interior

Developed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (a U.S. Department of Labor department) in collaboration with several other agencies (such as the U.S. Forest Service), the National Integrated Land System (NILS) facilitates the sharing of mineral and land record information both within the government as well as within the private sector. According to ESRI (2014), NILS' publication site, otherwise known as GeoCommunicator, "provides searching, accessing, and dynamic mapping of data from federal surface management boundaries, mining claims, land- and mineral-use records, and Public Land Survey System data." Embracing best practices in Geographic Information Systems has in this case enabled the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to develop business-driven, sustainable solutions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Next, we have the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which according to Cramer (2009, p. 25), "maintains a GIS Wetlands Geo-database." As ESRI (2014) points out, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes use of GIS technology to further enhance its ability to report accurately on the economic impact of endangered plant species sites or areas. Specifically, researchers working for this particular agency combine data types from a variety of sources and then utilize "ArcGIS Desktop software to layer proposed critical habitats and define landownership and current and planned land use within and adjacent to the designation" (ESRI 2014). This is yet another example of GIS technology being used in the development of sustainable solutions to seemingly complex problems.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Authority

According to ESRI (2014), the federal government, through its various agencies, also actively makes use of GIS in data gathering, in which case it routinely combines "on-the-ground collection activities with remotely sensed imagery and information to provide decision makers and the public with timely reports and maps that help them prepare for and recover from natural disasters and economic changes."

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) is one of the U.S. government agencies that utilize a GIS database to facilitate its operations. Mandated with the management of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), FEMA is, from time to time, expected to update the digital flood insurance rate maps of the National Flood Insurance Program which, as ESRI (2014) further points out, indicate likely flood hazard risks for communities across the country. To be able to accomplish this in a more efficient and sustainable manner, FEMA came up with a half-decade modernization plan for the flood map. It is important to note that given that "flood hazard conditions are dynamic and data must be continually updated, FEMA manages the data for the maps with a GIS database that makes the information available via the web" (ESRI 2014). In this case, it is not difficult to see why as far as the delivery of services is concerned, GIS tools come in handy in the implementation of programs meant to benefit those who need them most.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is yet another good example of a federal government agency that actively makes use of GIS to coordinate some of its operations and, hence, fulfill its mandate. One of the GIS applications the agency makes use of is the Integrated Common Analytical Viewer (iCAV) which is, in basic terms, "a secure, web-based, geospatial visualization suite of tools that integrates commercial and government-owned data and imagery from multiple sources" (Beveridge, 2011, p. 275). According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (as cited in Beveridge, 2011), iCAV is not only modeled to geospatially map, but to also image, evaluate, sort, and analyze the key resources and critical infrastructure of the nation. Thanks to this innovative ArcGIS Server-built custom web application, those responsible for decision making at various levels have, at their disposal, "the tools they need for coordinated preparedness, response, and recovery in cases of suspicious activity, threats, hurricanes, or other major event" (ESRI, 2014). It is important to note that in this case, decision makers are, at various locations, provided with up-to-date wall map displays that clearly capture activities deemed to be suspicious at key infrastructural points (such as nuclear facilities, power plants, and chemical plants). Thanks to GIS, systems that were formally disparate are now united -- thus enabling them to provide "a common and complete picture for 180,000 staff and 500,000 contractors" (ESRI, 2014).

Already, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is in the process of replacing iCAV with a new, enhanced, and more innovative visualization program referred to as OneView. On its website, the agency notes this new visualization program "will replace iCAV as the primary visualization capability for Geospatial Information Infrastructure (GII)" (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2014). However, as the agency further notes, to ensure that the transition to the new platform is seamless, users will not be denied access to iCAV until after the passage of some time. With this truly remarkable system, users will be able to view maps with richer interface and gain access to more enhanced "imagery, geocoding, and routing features" (U.S. Department of Homeland Security). Such advancements shouldn't be allowed to pass unnoticed. This is particularly the case given that in the modern day and age, the main challenge being faced by agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security isn't really unavailability of data but rather, the meaningful utilization of the data collected. Using location as a common feature enables such agencies to make informed decisions.

Successful Deployment of GIS Technologies in Facilities Management and Transportation

As far as facilities management is concerned, ESRI (2014) rightfully points out that federal agencies own and/or control numerous facilities across the country. In that regard, therefore, effective management of the said facilities is of the essence. On this front, it is important to note that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has over time opened quite a number of taxpayer assistance centers countrywide. These centers are meant to help tax payers with issues to do with the filling of taxes. According to ESRI (2014), "to manage its facilities, the IRS developed the GIS-based post of Duty Model application that enables the agency to analyze current office locations and evaluate proposed sites." Yet another government agency that is actively making use of GIS technologies in the management of its facilities is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Spanning approximately 400 acres, Langley Research Center (LaRC) is deemed the largest center NASA owns. This particular infrastructure, as ESRI (2014) points out, "is managed with a state-of-the-art GIS, which enables planners to address issues such as master planning, space utilization, utility maintenance, and cost estimates."

When it comes to matters transportation, it is important to note that the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration is entrusted with the safety of the country's highway transportation systems (ESRI 2014). According to ESRI (2014), "information about federally aided highway bridges is contained in the national bridge inventory," in which case, as the author further points out, "this data has been integrated into an ArcGIS database and used to identify deficient bridges on the national highway system."

Real Life Application of GIS in Recent Times

GIS technologies have been applied in diverse situations in the recent past. For instance, GIS technologies played a pivotal role during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. During this particular cyclone, GIS technologies, according to ESRI (2014), "enabled first responders to quickly identify potential helicopter landing zones (HLZ) and expedite relief efforts." Helicopter landing zone maps were, as ESRI (2014) notes, provided by "the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/U.S. Army Forces Strategic Command Measurement and Signature Intelligence/Advanced Geospatial Intelligence Node…." These helicopter landing zone maps helped in the assessment of post-hurricane conditions, particularly along the Mississippi coast. Some of the teams that actively made use of the maps included, but they were not limited to, the Mississippi National Guard and the 82nd Airborne Division (ESRI, 2014).

Application in other Jurisdictions

Qatar, as Valavanis (2003, p. 8) points out, was one of the first countries to fully embrace what the author refers to as "a comprehensive nationwide GIS." As early as 1990, this Western Asia country, as Valavanis (2003, p. 8) further points out had "established a National GIS Steering Committee and the Centre for GIS aiming to implement GIS in an organized and systematic fashion and serve the GIS requirements of all government agencies." As a result, many Qatari government agencies are today making use of GIS in their daily undertakings.

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GIS Client / Server Systems.  (2014, May 28).  Retrieved May 25, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gis-client-server-systems/3216911

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