JIS News

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Geonet Technology Services, Garfield Knight has said that local partnerships in the use of Geographic Information System (GIS), were very important if Jamaica was to successfully compete with countries, which were now using this technology to drive their economies.
Mr. Knight, who was speaking yesterday (Nov. 14) at a Kiwanis Club of Kingston luncheon at the Hilton Hotel, on the topic: ‘Creating Wealth Through GIS’, stressed that technology giants such as Microsoft and Google were now pooling resources with other firms in the use of this technology, and that this collaborative approach, would enable the country to compete regionally and internationally.
“You can use this technology in your own enterprise to improve your operations and if you don’t do it, you will be competing with somebody else who is doing it. Whereas, before, you had to invest in all kinds of hardware and software in your office to do navigation, you don’t need to do this anymore. You can now subscribe to Googleearth, Microsoft Virtualearth, or elandjamaica and you are able to deliver your value-added services on top of this data that is being provided,” he explained.
A GIS is a computer system for creating, storing, analyzing and managing spatial data and associated attributes. It is capable of integrating, storing, editing, analyzing, sharing, and displaying geographically-referenced information, and is a tool that allows users to create interactive queries (user created searches), analyze the spatial information, and edit data.
Outlining the various ways in which GIS is utilized, Mr. Knight noted that the technology is used all around the world, as well as in Jamaica, to facilitate efficient delivery of land information. He said that GIS enabled persons to “do property assessments to determine what value of properties exists in a certain area and also be able to analyse where land ownership exists and how land should be transferred”.
As it relates to the use of GIS by utility companies, Mr. Knight said these entities leveraged the technology in the management of facilities that were geographically dispersed. “A utility company is able to know where their customers are, but more importantly, utility companies want to be able to manage their assets, and manage their facilities,” he continued.
He informed that GIS was also used in site selection and demographic analysis. “You are able to look at for example, average income per household, so you could look at the country and determine where or what scenario of poverty exists and how you want to address it,” he explained.
Mr. Knight added that GIS could also be used for travel analysis, “where if you are a business person and you are able to map where your customers are coming from, you can start to make some assessment in terms of how you can be more strategic for example in terms of marketing.sometimes that information doesn’t come to you readily when you look at it (only) on paper”.
Turning to the use of GIS in public safety, he told the gathering that GIS could also be used to map crime incidents over a particular period and that this information could then be used to create a “hot-spot” map. This method of information gathering is currently being used in Jamaica, particularly by the Hotspot Secretariat that was recently established to enable the police to develop more effective strategies in addressing crime, particularly in volatile areas.
GIS is also a key player in the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and other mobile devices.
GPS technology locates things and places in the context of geography. Mr. Knight explained that technologies such as these were now “converging”, so that soon, the term GIS would be replaced by location-based services. He said this emphasis on service was important “because service is what creates wealth”.
The traditional use of GIS, he explained, does not provide a service, as when GIS moves from the enterprise to the consumer or citizen, it becomes a location-based service. The CEO noted that technology researchers had predicted that in 2010, GIS and location-based services would be the highest revenue-generating product in the world.
Geography Awareness Week is being celebrated from November 12-17.