Back in the late 1970's the main suppliers of GIS systems such as IBM and Intergraph were mainly supplying custom built solutions on mainframe computers. These systems were only available to the biggest organisations with budgets often in excess of several million of pounds. The arrival of the personal computer in the 1980's meant that desktop GIS solutions could be provided to companies with much more limited resources.
Within the past few years another factor in limiting the adoption of GIS has been the ongoing cost of purchasing maps. Within the UK for instance, a substantial cost in using mapping technology was associated with Ordnance Survey supplied maps. Now a change in government policy means that many OS maps are available for download at no cost for private or commercial use. This should encourage more organisations to use GIS software with the removal of this previous cost hurdle to adoption of these mapping solutions. Ordnance Survey have been providing maps in digital format since the advent of the personal computer and these maps were of considerable use to both local and central government departments. The application of GIS solutions within the local and central government arena is significant. The local and central government market accounts for significant element of the solutions supplied by proprietary operating systems. MapInfo and Esri have a significant share but there are also a number of specialist GIS software suppliers to this important marketplace.
County councils were early adopters of desktop GIS software and over time local councils would often take similar systems to maintain compatibility. Within local government, highways and planning departments found GIS desktop software a considerable advantage over previously used paper systems. Suppliers to local government often found it convenient to also use systems compatible with those used by their customers.
With the arrival of open source GIS systems such as Quantum GIS more organisations are now able to use GIS to help their businesses grow. Ability to manipulate both TAB and Shape files means that QGIS can work with maps and data supplied in these proprietary systems formats.
For many organisations the advent of open source software has enabled them to benefit from the many advantages that GIS can bring to their businesses. As Quantum GIS is open source there are no licence fees to pay on installation or at any point in the future as new versions become available. In the circumstances, any organisation of any size can now enjoy the benefits of a fully functioning GIS desktop software solution without any capital outlay for the software.
If you think your organisation could benefit from the use of desktop GIS, jps services are providing one day introductory Quantum GIS courses in Oxford in September and October 2013. These courses will assume that the attendees have little or no knowledge of GIS and will cover everything from installation of the software to manipulating, creating and printing maps. You can find out more information about these introductory GIS training courses here.