Software resources

The type of desktop GIS software used by councils provides a rough indication of the capability of council GIS departments. It is also common for councils to use products common to a corporate vendor for ease of data interchange and interface familiarity or economic reasons such as ‘package discounts’. Seventy-seven percent of respondents use only one type of desktop GIS product.

The two major desktop software products used by councils in New Zealand are ESRI ArcGIS and MapInfo Professional. Of the councils who responded to the survey, 44% use ArcGIS and 42% use MapInfo. Together 77% of all councils use either ArcGIS or MapInfo, and 10% use both ArcGIS and MapInfo. Of the respondents who do not use either ESRI or MapInfo products, 50% use Intergraph GeoMedia and the remaining 50% do not have inhouse GIS desktop products. Based on the population of each council constituency, the average population for local councils who use ArcGIS is 98,005 people compared with 36,149 people for MapInfo Professional. This suggests larger councils are more likely to use ArcGIS.

Uncommon situations or comments made in regard to desktop GIS products included the use of AutoCAD for GIS/mapping work and the use of an application server allowing desktop GIS using Genamap.

When making comparisons between ArcGIS and MapInfo, the survey shows that of those who use ArcGIS, 22% also have MapInfo, and of those who use MapInfo, 41% also use ArcGIS. The higher percentage of MapInfo users who also use ArcGIS products suggests neither of the two products completely fill the functionality or pricing needs of councils; however, ArcGIS fulfils more desktop GIS needs than MapInfo Professional.

No responses included any comments or indications regarding the use of open source or free desktop GIS software.

Common statements made by survey respondents regarding GIS resources included a planned upgrade from ArcIMS to ArcGIS Server, as well as the use of Citrix servers to run GIS desktop applications as thin clients[7] in order to save on licensing costs.

Internet map servers have a high rate of use within councils. Thirty-five percent of responses run external (internet) map servers and 77% run internal (intranet) map servers. Ninety-one percent of ArcGIS desktop users run IMS and 73% of MapInfo users run IMS. The percentage use of IMS common software products compared by desktop type is shown in figure 10.2.

Figure 10.2   IMS software use compared by desktop software used


Users who run ESRI desktop GIS products are also likely to use ESRI products for other GIS applications within their organisation. This is not an unexpected result and a council choosing ESRI, will use ESRI to provide software for many, if not all, of its common geospatial application needs. ESRI provides GIS software for desktop, server, mobile devices and also provides products for spatial data storage, programming libraries and software development kits (SDK).

This relationship is also similar between MapInfo Professional desktop and MapInfo’s IMS product, mapXtreme, although the results do not show as strong a relationship. In general, it appears that councils look to ESRI as their ‘one stop shop’ for all GIS applications if they use ArcGIS as a desktop application, whereas those who use MapInfo are more likely to seek a product independently of the existing software used for desktop GIS. Councils that responded with ‘other’ when questioned as to which IMS software was chosen, also stated MapInfo or ‘other’ as their desktop GIS product.

Transport modelling software is used by 29% of local and regional councils. The majority of these use Tracks. Other transport modelling software commonly used includes EMME/2 and Saturn. Local councils also mentioned using Tmodel and Cube. TransCAD is not used by any council for transport modelling. It is noteworthy that only one implementation of transport modelling is linked to journey planning software (Auckland Transport).

In 2008 journey planning services were provided by three councils as outlined in the earlier part of this chapter. All three journey planning services ran on the IPTIS engine and had a high level of customisation.

Of the surveys that included responses to questions regarding operating systems, all respondents used either Windows XP or Windows 2000 as their common operating system. The adoption of Windows Vista by councils was minimal. No indication was given that Apple, UNIX/Linux based or other open source software is used as a common operating system by councils.