IGI Business Case Executive Summary

In case you missed it or haven’t subscribed to the IGIC email list, below is the Executive Summary of the IGI Business Case that has been being compiled over the last 15 months or so. Much work has gone into this business case and we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we currently are without the dedicated efforts of the project lead: Jim Giglierano with the Iowa DNR. Thanks so very much for all that you’ve done.

The goal of this project was to develop a business plan for the creation of the Iowa Geospatial Infrastructure (IGI), Iowa’s contribution to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. The strategic plan to be used by the Iowa Geographic Information Council (IGIC) to guide this effort will be completed in-house. However, IGIC received outside assistance from GITA to provide expertise and education for completing the business plan, business case, and financial analysis to support the strategic plan. This combined effort will facilitate the implementation of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure by assessing the needs of local entities that are not currently using geospatial technology, as well as those trying to maintain existing investments, and further support and promote the creation of high quality local datasets compatible with the IGI.

Successful implementation of a statewide LiDAR project has shown that creative solutions can be achieved to fund major GIS projects. IGIC desires to leverage its experience of using a revolving loan fund to meet the needs of building a statewide geospatial infrastructure. The desired general direction for creation of the IGI is to evolve a nontraditional distributed governance and funding model.

Iowa decided to implement the ROI analysis methodology for multi-agency projects that GITA developed in 2006-2007 for the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). GITA also provided the single agency financial analysis methodology developed over the past five years as a major ongoing research project.

Financial analysis for the project was conducted through a process of GITA delivering training to IGIC members in a series of meetings, webinars, training sessions, and follow-up consulting. Considerable effort was dedicated to determining scope for the project, described by the following business case description:

“This project will focus on development of Iowa spatial data infrastructure, including hardware, software, communications, training and other services, focused on the development and delivery of the seven NSDI framework data layers. Data will be collected and maintained by counties, cities, state and Federal agencies, and others and provided as a seamless statewide data collection. The data will be publicly available through the Internet. Coordination and technical assistance will be provided by a cooperative agreement between agency partners. A public awareness campaign will be conducted to attract participation in the project and use of the data. We will do a 20 year analysis for this study.”

IGIC ultimately determined that the project would focus on nine data layers. The first seven layers are those of the NSDI Framework Layers – Geodetic Control, Orthoimagery, Administrative Boundaries, Cadastal, Transportation, Elevation, and Hydrography. Over the course of the project, it was discovered that it would be beneficial to the business case and the constituents to add an additional two layers – Address Points and Building Footprints. Although this project is unusual in attempting a broad and simultaneous analysis of many complex data issues, it is the conviction of IGIC that a holistic approach to the envisioned IGI project will best capture the realizable costs and benefits of such a program. It is also the conviction of IGIC that an analysis of the entire envisioned program is necessary for presentation to legislative bodies and other decision makers.

The multi-agency financial analysis incorporated spreadsheets describing costs and benefits for all 99 counties of Iowa, 11 state agencies, three utilities plus Iowa One Call, and consulting firms. Many additional organizations were interviewed during the project but not all were able to provide quantifiable benefits at this time. The 20 year analysis shows Net Present Value of $280M and Return on Investment of 25.01%. Sensitivity analysis was performed to determine the effect of a delayed implementation of GIS over 20 counties and the effect of Imagery for the Nation contracting capabilities not being available. Neither of these analyses showed severe detriment to the project. However, sensitivity analysis on the effect of a county attempting to implement GIS in standalone mode, not using the resources of IGI, showed that such a project may have difficulty breaking even.

Development of costs for the IGI focuses on three major areas: the cost of establishing service agencies to provide for the GIS needs of county and state agencies, the cost of adopting GIS for the 20 counties with no program, and the cost of participation in the IGI for organizations already invested in GIS to some extent. Analysis of benefits was by far the most time consuming and challenging portion of this project. The GITA resource formally interviewed 90 entities and created spreadsheets with applicable cost and benefit information. Iowa DNR provided additional interviews, as well as conducting and attending many meetings and outreach discussions with potential participating organizations in Iowa.

Analysis of strategic benefits shows many areas which may become quantifiable as they are studied over time. These include: data accessibility, timeliness, data quality, depth and breadth of data, and fostering equitable distribution of resources. Two areas in particular emerged as providing great strategic and tangible benefits and need for further study. Economic development benefits to the state from availability of geospatial data are enormous. In the case of counties without GIS, the strategic benefit of moving proactively to attract new business through adoption of GIS could signify the type of attitude shift that is required for low-growth areas to take charge of their future. Emergency response staff at the county and state level are just beginning to reap the rewards of GIS capabilities. The majority of these organizations do not currently have a means to track benefits during a natural disaster or other type of unique emergency. It will be necessary to work with them over time to devise methods for measuring the changes brought to their processes through use of geospatial technology.

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