95% of of Public Safety Agencies Under-utilize Computer Mapping and GIS

Like me, you prabably read that statistic in a recent press relase (Wednesday, Jan 23) from GTG. The first sentence:

95% of Public Safety Agencies under-utilize computer mapping and GIS.

I wondered how that number was determined. I asked that question of Matthew McLamb, Sales and Marketing Manager at the company and received this response.

This statistic is based on our visiting over 600 GIS implementations nationally and internationally.  We noted to our surprise that almost all public safety agencies only scratch the surface with their GIS.  They get what is given to them by their public safety vendor in regards to GIS and in most cases the GIS is an afterthought.  Additionally, we have taught our “10 Ways to Improve Your Public Safety with GIS” course to hundreds of students domestically and internationally and 99% of them identify GIS in their agency as being underutilized.  A good article (from Emergency Communication Professional Magazine) describing this can be found at this link -  http://www.geotg.com/GTG/newsite/Assets/docs/GIStoitsFullest.pdf This article states that most Public Safety GIS implementations are underutilizing GIS and it describes why.   Our checklist 911 article touches on some of the challenges http://www.geotg.com/articles/Checklist911_GTG.pdf. This checklist served as the basis for our seminar.

While I can't argue the statistic is in error, I would describe it as an estimate based on anecdotal evidence. Further, I would imagine that students in a course called “10 Ways to Improve Your Public Safety with GIS” would tend to be less, rather than more familiar with GIS and its applications. So, it's possible the 99% of students noted above may not represent a valid sample of public safety organizations. Finally, the article cited, from Jan/Feb 2010, was written by two GTG staffers about public safety community. The president and the CEO wrote:

Digital incident mapping has become the norm. However. in a large majority of organizations these digital maps are underdeployed and underutilized.

No details on the source of that proportion was provided in the article.

On Thursday (Jan 24) the company issued another press release; this one highlighted its free seminars. It features these statements

Let’s face it a majority of GIS implementations are not reaching their potential. It has been said that 95% of GIS implementations fall short of enterprise-wide adoption.

Maybe these stats are just another few that will ingrain in our conciousness like the still unsourced "80% of data has a spatial dimension" statement.


Published Friday, January 25th, 2013

Written by Adena Schutzberg

Published in