A Framework for Supporting GIS Competencies in Local Government
Implementation of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in local government in Great Britain is currently expanding rapidly, yet the full potential is frequently under-utilised. The complexity of GIS present a particularly acute learning issue, and key constraints to unlocking their full benefits include organisational structure and remit, lack of awareness of potential applications, the skills base, and management support. This study started from the position that in order to make the best use of GIS, local authorities and their staff need to move into a position that allows the development of levels of learning which promote understanding of the principles and capabilities rather than the operations required to carry out specific tasks. It thus addresses issues related to both individual and organisational learning and development. The research identified three ‘communities’, namely suppliers of GI systems and training, GIS managers in local authorities and GIS users in local government, and, using a multi-stage, multi-method approach comprising primary data sources (material collected using survey and case study methods) and secondary data sources (a review of services provided by GIS training suppliers), examined three questions: What GIS training and development is currently provided? How is training and development delivered to GIS personnel in local government? What do users require of GIS training and development? This paper addresses these questions and the learning and training needs and preferences which they revealed, and outlines the conceptual and practical framework for enhancing GIS skills across all levels of local authority staff which was developed on this foundation.
Keywords: Geographical Information Systems, Training, Education, Local Government, Professional Development, Competencies, Skills, Knowledge
Senior Lecturer, Department of the Built Environment, Anglia Ruskin University