Hardware and Software Requirements for GIS

Many GIS applications are implemented within organizations and have to play an important role.  The effectiveness of GIS projects therefore depends as much on the futuristic planning of hardware and software requirements, as on technicalities of its implementation. It is therefore necessary to address the question of how GIS can be successful in an organization and continue to do so for many years before upgradations of hardware and software are needed. GIS projects are successful because they help the organisation to perform better in society. But it is also true that organisational issues will contribute to the long-term success of a GIS project. In other words, GIS and the host organisation have a close and two-way relationship.

It is neither possible nor desirable to recommend here a generalized requirement in terms of hardware and software for a GIS program.  Nevertheless, there is a necessity to analyse the requirements keeping in view the following:

  1. Organization's goals and objectives
  2. Analysis of current practices and problems encountered and redundancies
  3. Organizational issues - management structure, resources, staff
  4. training
  5. Applications
  6. Base map requirements
  7. Conceptual data base design
  8. System integration
  9. Cost of GIS implementation applications development, data conversion, hardware, software, resources, training, update and maintenance
  10. The Strategic Implementation Plan over a period of 3-5 years

Hardware Requirement

It is obvious that hardware and software requirements vary considerably depending on the tasks undertaken.  The following minimum configuration allows installation of most modern GIS applications for work with small components. Recommended configurations are noted in parentheses for work with anything other than small drawings.

  • 2.8 Ghz PIV true PC compatible (dual-core processor recommended).
  • 1 GB RAM (4 GB or greater recommended).
  • 800 x 600 SVGA Display (1280 x 1024 or greater recommended).
  • 250 MB hard disk free space (gigabytes of free space recommended).
  • Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 or Vista with most recent service pack, in standard 32-bit versions or in 64-bit versions. (Windows XP or greater recommended).
  • Internet Explorer 6 or most recent IE version plus most recent service pack.
  • Microsoft's .NET Framework 2.0 or more recent.
  • IIS 5.1 or greater to operate IMS.

                     For very large tasks, such as intensive web server applications using IMS, investing in a dual socket, quad processor machine may be considered. This has eight cores. Various processes within modern GIS applications can use multiple processors.  

Memory Requirements for Large Projects - Manifold is designed for an era where RAM memory is cheap and personnel costs are high. Undo and many other user-friendly features require a lot of memory to implement. For best performance we recommend installing lots of RAM and having plenty of free disk space for temporary files. RAM is so cheap in modern times it is "penny wise and pound foolish" not to load up your system with the maximum amount of RAM it can hold. This will help all your work go faster and not just Manifold. As always, keep in mind that to really use lots of RAM effectively you should be running 64-bit Windows such as Windows Vista x64, Windows Server 2008 x64 or Windows XP x64.

Software Requirement

The following is a list of GIS application packages from which one can choose.  The choice shall depend on the needs of the organization, functionality desired and the money available, and the period for which the planning is being done.  One may need to make a comparison of costs and benefits (both of which keep changing rapidly) before making a final decision.

Most widely used notable proprietary software applications and providers:

  • Hydro GeoAnalyst Environmental data management and visualization software by Schlumberger Water Services.
  • Autodesk Products include MapGuide and other products that interface with its flagship AutoCAD software package.
  • Cadcorp Developers of GIS software and OpenGIS standard (e.g. Read/Write Open Source PostGIS database).
  • Intergraph Products include GeoMedia, GeoMedia Profesional, GeoMedia WebMap, and add-on products for industry sectors, as well as photogrammetry.
  • ERDAS IMAGINE A proprietary GIS, Remote Sensing, and Photogrammetry software developed by ERDAS, Inc.
  • ESRI Products include ArcView 3.x, ArcGIS, ArcSDE, ArcIMS, and ArcWeb services.
  • IDRISI Proprietary GIS product developed by Clark Labs.
  • MapInfo Products include MapInfo Professional and MapXtreme. integrates GIS software, data and services.
  • MapPoint Proprietary GIS product developed by Microsoft.
  • GISNet A web-based GIS system developed by MRF Geosystems Corporation.
  • Caliper Products include Maptitude, TransCAD and TransModeler. Develops GIS and the only GIS for transportation.
  • Pictometry Proprietary software which allows oblique images to be draped with shapefiles. Many gov't applications (fire, 911, police, assessor) as well as commercial.
  • Black Coral Inc a leading edge product company developing geospatial collaboration capabilities that enable better outcomes for personnel and tactical teams operating in emergency response and military environments.

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