GIS implementation

“Organizational Context, Social Interpretation, and the Implementation and Consequences of Geographic Information Systems” by Sahay & Robey (1996) provides a framework for understanding the process of GIS implementation in local governments. The comparative analysis identifies essential organizational characteristics needed for effective implementation, and reveals how the social construction of technology affects how it is subsequently integrated into an organization.
The implications of the study of GIS implementation for GIScience are multiple. Most notably, the implementation and diffusion of GIS in various organizations has enabled and sustained the development of GI technologies and GIScience. The emergence of sub-topics in GIScience such as geovisualization, location based services, ontologies and GIS clouds can be partially attributed to the the widespread use of GI systems. Moreover, the conceptual frameworks developed through the study of GIS implementation can be applied to evaluate the implementation of other GI technologies and innovations including, GIS cloud computing,  LBS, open data initiatives, metadata standards etc. The establishment of GIS has also facilitated interoperability between department of the same organization and enable inter-organizational spatial data sharing.
The study of GIS implementation invokes the debate that underpins this course: Is GIS a tool or a science? Does the study of GIS implementation, the study of the implementation of a tool, undermine GIscience? Or does the very study of GIS implementation secure its place as science?
I would argue that the dynamic nature of GIS implementation, and the fluid conceptualization of GIS, calls for the development of theories to better explicate the process, placing GIS implementation as topic within the field of GIScience. But that is up for discussion!


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