Strategic GIS Planning and Management in Local Government: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Strategic GIS Planning and Management in Local Government

1st Edition

By David A. Holdstock

CRC Press

258 pages | 26 Color Illus. | 74 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781466556508
pub: 2016-09-28
SAVE ~$39.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315374437
pub: 2016-10-03
from $117.00

FREE Standard Shipping!


This "how-to" book on planning and managing GIS within local government describes and details the key components of a successful enterprise, sustainable and enduring GIS. It describes the strategic planning process an organization must undertake prior to GIS implementation. The heart of the book is the formula for success that offers a systematic methodology for examining and benchmarking a GIS initiative and the practical and repeatable strategy for success.

There are many obstacles to successful GIS implementation, and unfortunately, the local government landscape is riddled with false starts, poorly planned implementations, and glorified mapping systems. This book documents the reason for failure and possible remedies to overcome the challenges to implementation. It discusses pathways to change, ways of improving organizational effectiveness and efficiency, and lays out the organizational approaches, management processes, and leadership actions that are required for GIS to become an indispensable part of an organization. This book is about aiming high, so you can consistently hit your mark by formulating goals and objectives that will tremendously influence the success of a GIS initiative. It details the factors crucial for building an enterprise GIS vision statement that includes governance, data and databases, procedures and workflow, GIS software, GIS training and education, and infrastructure, and how to develop performance measures related to the stated objectives of an organization. The book combines theory with real-world experience to offer guidance on the process of managing GIS implementation. Through key components, this book introduces a new way to think about GIS technology. 


"Detailed, thoughtful, and essential, David’s book, "Strategic GIS Planning and Management in Local Government" is an invaluable guide for all GIS professionals tasked with developing and maintaining a superb local government GIS."

— Patrick Baber, City of Roswell, Georgia, USA

"In these pages, David A. Holdstock skillfully crafts a set of tools that when used properly allow us as leaders to solve real problems and achieve measurable results that move the needle on the performance indicators of local government."

— Jeff Griffin, Columbus Consolidated Government, Georgia, USA

"Throughout the pages of Strategic GIS Planning and Management in Local Government, Holdstock emphasizes the value of strategic planning and offers a straightforward and systematic methodology. He delivers an ‘A to Z’ manual of sorts, with insider knowledge and a distinctive understanding of the principles required for GIS planning, designing, implementing and sustaining. This book is a worthy read for every GIS professional, no matter the current state of his or her particular GIS or their level of experience."

— Steve Hill, City of Dayton, Ohio, USA

"Whether you are implementing a GIS system for a small town or a large size governmental agency, this is a must read. David uses graphs and charts to help explain GIS to decision makers and gives you the tips you need to help sell GIS to the organization. David’s book belongs in everyone’s GIS tool kit; it will help ensure your success as a GIS professional and the GIS success of your organization."

— Robert Jessen, City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

"Not since Dr. Roger Tomlinson published Thinking About GIS in 2003 has there been such a thoughtful and insightful discussion of GIS strategic planning and implementation. Written by fellow Brit David A. Holdstock, Strategic GIS Planning and Management in Local Government combines 20 years of GIS consulting for local governments across the globe with wit and humor. This is a must have guidebook for GIS professionals in state and local government to assist with strategic GIS planning and implementation."

— Cathy Raney, Campbell County, Wyoming, USA

"Through Holdstock’s personal brand of humor, wit and charm, this book reviews the wide breadth of GIS in an exciting and relevant fashion. …Holdstock provides direction on how to evaluate and collaborate with others in our organizations to discover their wishes and requirements; to identify our resources, targets, and challenges; and to outline our path forward in the ever evolving world of GIS. Local governmental agencies cannot simply purchase a software system and expect it to magically provide solutions. Strategic planning is vital for a sustainable GIS program! This book helps you through that entire process with easy to understand visuals and real life examples."

— Erin Reinders, City of Unalaska, Alaska, USA

"David’s book distills 25 years of expertise helping local governments to adopt and implement GIS technology into their organization and provides local governments and organizations with a tool kit for evaluating, benchmarking, and implementing an enterprise GIS. His step-by-step strategy for developing a GIS vision, goals, and objectives mirrors the process he uses with clients and gives the reader a tried and true methodology for defining your organization’s vision and setting goals that support this vision."

— Mary Martin, Athens-Clarke County Planning Department, Georgia, USA

"With a focus on strategic planning, steady funding, and the education of elected officials, the author walks his readers through his methodology for building an enduring, sustainable, and enterprise GIS for local government. I believe the breadth of Holdstock’s experience shared in this book would be a particularly critical read for a GIS coordinator considering a major overhaul of an existing GIS system, and will also hold value for readers interested in the business and management side of the GIS industry."

The GIS Professional, November/December 2016

"Strategic GIS Planning and Management in Local Government provides details for implementing a geographic information system in local government. Both conceptual and technical issues are described and this book outlines a process that can be used to support a successful strategy. Each step along the path is described. Unique to this book is the explanation of governance in terms of GIS technology and an assessment of tangible and non-tangible benefits for a successful GIS strategy."

3D Visualization World Magazine, December 2016

Table of Contents





Strategic Planning

The Formula for Success

Challenges, Barriers, and Pitfalls

Developing a Vision, Goals, and Objectives


GIS Training, Education, and Knowledge Transfer

Return on Investment

How to Sell GIS to Local Government?


Strategic Planning

A Proposed Outline for the Scope of Work

Phase I: Needs Assessment

Step 1: Online Questionnaire

Step 2: Kick-Off Meeting and Technology Workshop

Step 3: Departmental Interviews

Step 4: Present the Findings of the GIS Needs Assessment

Phase II: Conceptual Alternative System Design

Step 5: Developing the CSD

Phase III: Final Implementation Plan

Step 6: Business Plan

Step 7: Final Implementation Plan and Presentation (Plan of Action)

The Formula for Success

Different Perspectives on GIS

A Layman’s Discussion of Campbell and Masser’s Book GIS and Organizations

Technological Determinism: The IT Guru or Tech Geek Perspective

Managerial Rationalism: The Local Government Management Perspective

Social Interactionism: The Local Government Individual Perspective

The Truth of the Matter

The Formula for Success—A Checklist

Category One: GIS Governance

Category Two: GIS Digital Data and Databases

Category Three: GIS Procedures, Workflow, and Integration

Category Four: GIS Software

Category Five: GIS Training, Education, and Knowledge Transfer

Category Six: GIS Infrastructure

The Formula for Success

Challenges, Barriers, and Pitfalls

A Pass/Fail Approach

Five GIS Strategic Planning Components

Component One: Strategic GIS Components

Component Two: Tactical GIS Components

Component Three: Technical GIS Components

Component Four: Logistical GIS Components

Component Five: Political GIS Components

Challenges, Barriers, and Pitfalls

Challenges to an Enterprise GIS

Barriers to an Enterprise GIS

Pitfalls to an Enterprise GIS

The Challenges, Barriers, and Pitfalls of 100 Organizations

The Challenges, Barriers, and Pitfalls during GIS Maturation

The Role and Responsibilities of the GIS Coordinator

Sequential Steps to Developing a Vision, Goals, and Objectives

Step One: Understand the Existing GIS Situation

Step Two: Conduct Blue Sky GIS Sessions with Stakeholders and Conduct a GIS SWOT Analysis

Step Three: Build Consensus and Buy-In for an Enterprise

GIS Solution from All Stakeholders

Example 1: San Luis Obispo County, CA

Example 2: City of Carlsbad, CA

Example 3: Orange County, CA

Example 4: City of Dayton, OH

Example 5: Brant County, Ontario, Canada

Example 6: Greenville Utilities Commission

Example 7: City of Virginia Beach, VA

Step Four: Align the GIS with the Vision of the Organizations

Organization’s Overall Goal #1: Continually Improve Public Safety

Organization’s Overall Goal #2: Sound and Stable Utilities

Organization’s Overall Goal #3: Promote Economic Development

Organization’s Overall Goal #4: A Great Downtown

Organization’s Overall Goal #5: Increased Civic Engagement

Organization’s Overall Goal #6: Promote Fiscal Soundness

Step Five: Create a GIS Vision Statement, Goals, and Objectives

GIS Vision Statement

GIS Goals

GIS Objectives

Step Six: Develop Performance Measures, Outcomes, and Metrics


But What Exactly Is GIS Governance?

New Management Challenges Introduced by GIS Implementation

Government without GIS

Misguided GIS Governance

Why Is It So Challenging to Deploy an Optimum GIS Governance Model that Meets a Set of Basic Criteria?

Three GIS Governance Models

Governance Model #1: Centralized Governance Structure

Governance Model #2: Decentralized Governance Model

Governance Model #3: Hybrid Governance Model

New Trending Governance Model: Regionalized Governance Model

Adding Functional Teams to the Mix of Governance Models

Departmental Accountability, Best Business Practices, Executive Champion, GIS Technical Committee, GIS Steering Committee, Subject Matter Experts, and GIS User Groups

An Evaluation of the Different Governance Models

Case Study Discussion


GIS Training, Education, and Knowledge Transfer Introduction

GIS Timeline—GIS Management and Training and Education

Period 1: Big Bang to 1970s—The Geographer and Cartographer

Period 2: Late 1980s and Late 1990s—The GIS Software Period

Period 3: Late 1990s to 2010—The Era of Local Government GIS Professionals

Period 4: 2010 to 2020—GIS Maturity and Complexity

Period 5: 2020 to 2030—The Next Generation of GIS Coordinators

Type of GIS Users in Local Government

Esri-Based GIS Software Solutions

Defining GIS Training, Education, and Knowledge Transfer

Characteristics of a Perfect GIS Coordinator

Idea Number One: How to Become an Effective GIS Leader

Idea Number Two: Modern-Day Skills of a GIS Coordinator

Idea Number Three: The Principles of the CCL

GIS Training Series Module One: Characteristics of the Project GIS Coordinator

GIS Training Series Module Two: GIS Governance and Management Skills

GIS Training Series Module Three: GIS Digital Data and Databases Expertise

GIS Training Series Module Four: Understand Procedures, Workflow, and Integration

GIS Training Series Module Five: Understanding the Applications of GIS Software

GIS Training Series Module Six: GIS Training, Education, and Knowledge Transfer

GIS Training Series Module Seven: Understands IT Infrastructure and Architecture

Return on Investment

Local Governments’ Scorecard Approach

Example One: City of St. Petersburg, FL

Example Two: The City of Boston, MA

Example Three: The City of Fort Collins, FL

Option One: CBA

Option Two: RoI Analysis

Option Three: A VP

Perceived Benefits

More Trouble Than It’s Worth

The Value of a Life

Life is Definable, Changeable, and Improvable

A 70:30 Rule

Quality-of-Life Goals with Supporting Objectives

Economic Diversity and Innovation

Effective and Efficient Government

Infrastructure and Facilities


An RoI and VP Solution

KPI #1: Saving Money and Avoiding Costs

KPI #2: Saving Time

KPI #3: Increased Productivity and Organizational Performance

KPI #4: Improving Efficiency

KPI #5: Improving Data Accuracy and Reliability

KPI #6: Making Better and More Informed Decisions

KPI #7: Saving Lives and Mitigating Risks

KPI #8: Automating Workflow Procedures

KPI #9: Improving Information Processing

KPI #10: Complying with State and Federal Mandates

KPI #11: Protecting the Community

KPI #12: Improving Communication, Coordination, and Collaboration

KPI #13: Provide Data to Regulators, Developers, and Other Interested Parties

KPI #14: Respond More Quickly to Citizen Requests

KPI #15: Improve Citizen Access to Government

KPI #16: Effective Management of Assets and Resources

KPI #17: Good Environmental Stewardship and Well-Being

KPI #18: Data Relationship—New Ways of Thinking

KPI #19: Promote Economic Vitality

How to Sell GIS to Local Government

GIS Is Immensely Sound and Rich with Benefits

Selling Topic One: What Exactly Is GIS?

Selling Topic Two: Why Do Local Government Organizations Invest in GIS?

Selling Topic Three: Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave

Obvious Forces

Hidden Forces

A Values Game

Selling Topic Four: The Provocative Language of Selling and Framing the Argument

Selling Topic Five: A Loophole in Our Sales Strategy: The Seven Keys to GIS Success

Selling Topic Six: Language and Sales

Selling Topic Seven: Selling Local Government Data


The Importance of Strategic GIS Planning

A Possible Formula for Success

What about the Major Obstacles Along the Way?

How Important Is Developing a GIS Vision and Goals and Objectives?

The Maturing and Evolution of GIS Management

A Paradigm Shift: We Need to Think Very Differently about the GIS Coordinator and Enterprise GIS Training, Education, and Knowledge Transfer

GIS Cost–Benefit, RoI Analysis, or Value Proposition: Are We Poorer for It?

Is There an Art in Selling GIS to Local Government?

The Future of GIS Technology: How Does It Impact the GIS Coordinator or GIO? 2




About the Author

Mr. David Holdstock, BA, MS, a geographic information systems (GIS) professional and chief executive officer, co-established and incorporated Geographic Technologies Group, Inc. in 1997. Mr. Holdstock is a GIS practitioner and a leading expert in developing enterprise and sustainable GIS strategic implementation plans for towns, cities, and counties. Over the past 25 years, Mr. Holdstock has planned, designed, and coordinated the adoption and implementation of GIS technology for over 200 local government organizations. He has published many articles on GIS strategic planning for local government, including assessing the value of GIS; understanding the challenges, barriers, and pitfalls of GIS; and the implementation process for local government. David has conducted hundreds of workshops, seminars, and discussions on GIS implementation. His previous work experience has included being a GIS manager for the world’s leading transportation engineering company in New York and a GIS director for a research institute at North Carolina State University.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Government & Business
LAW / Environmental
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Remote Sensing & Geographic Information Systems