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Geographic Information Systems in Public Sector Enterprise Architectures: Issues and Challenges

Geographic information systems (GIS) are widespread at the federal, state and local levels. Data sharing is important because the ultimate power of a GIS is its ability to graphically present layers of data from multiple unrelated disciplines to create new information that allows people to answer questions. GIS have traditionally been built on standalone, stove-piped systems that present considerable difficulties to enterprise architects for several reasons. Although there are standard exchange formats for individual data types, there is a lack of federally-mandated standards for overall GIS data sets. This paper will discuss the efforts and associated challenges at federal, state and local levels to develop and implement GIS enterprise architecture frameworks, standards and enterprise architectures in order to better manage geospatial data. It presents the U.S. Census Bureau as an example of how the federal government is pursuing data sharing efforts with local government agencies, and provides examples of state and local government organizations that are implementing GIS into their enterprise architectures. It also discusses the impact of web technologies on the GIS industry and the differing opinions of the GIS industry on these technologies.