The issues that GIS and IT administrators face in developing and managing geospatial technologies are unique and cross the spectrum of both disciplines. The technical boundaries of GIS issues - system standards, accessibility, and compatibility - and those of IT - storage, network capacity, and wireless protocols - are rapidly dissolving within an ever-changing environment. The common organizational and business requirements such as staffing, training, and procedures add another dimension to the day-to-day challenges faced by administrators. Addressing and keeping pace with these demands is what Geospatial Administrators Association of South Carolina (GAA-SC) is all about. Our objective is not to compete with other GIS organizations, but to work through empowered local government technology leaders to enhance the growth and development of a diverse geospatial community within the state. Our mission is to establish a network and forum of management professionals from both GIS and IT disciplines to share knowledge, experience, and resources, as well as collaborate on common issues, problems, and needs. This is an organization where every member has something to contribute. If you are in a GIS or IT position, responsible for managing and directing geospatial technology within local government, we encourage you to join us as we strive toward our goal of solving today's challenges with tomorrow's vision.
Why A Local Government Focus?
The focus of the GAASC is to accomplish IT/GIS tasks and projects based on the common needs of local government. Based on past experience, one of the difficulties we have experienced with GIS organizations relates to the diversity of the organizational environments having differing perspectives and sometimes conflicting goals and objectives. As a result, there has been a lot of GIS meeting activity throughout the state, with very little real lasting product to show for it, specifically as it relates to the administrative aspects of GIS. Although we value the diversity of the GIS community, staying focused and on-task is the primary reason why this organization was established to have a voting core of active membership to be based on the common needs of city and county IT/GIS.
I Am Not a Local Government Administrator - Can I Join and Participate?
Realizing that much of what we plan to accomplish will be of benefit to geospatial managers outside of the local government environment, and the fact that the mission of the organization will benefit by interaction and support from managers outside government, we established the level of sustaining memberships. Sustaining members participate in nearly all activities of the organization with the exception that they do not posses the power to set the direction or focus of the organization. Our intent is not to appear so exclusive, but there are reasons behind why we are taking the local government focus. Other GIS/IT managers from organizations such as local utilities, COG's, and even state government are expressing a desire to be part of this organization and we welcome them to participate as a valuable member in a non-voting status. So, the point is that if you are interested in joining us, we would be delighted for you to do so.
What Makes GAASC Different From Other Organizations?
- Our intent is for every member to participate. Most have 5% presenting and 95% watching. If you are not contributing to the collective good of the community, you should question the validity of your membership in an organization.
- Quality, not quantity is our focus. We would prefer our membership to consist of a hand full of those who will get things done rather than large numbers that only support big conferences.
- The organization exists to empower you and your agenda as a Technology manager, not the other way around.
- We will measure success by how many more tools or resources you will have to draw from as a manager that was not available to you a year ago.
- Our bi-annual meetings are not intended to be the high points of activity, but rather check points. They serve as landing strips to present project deliverables and launch pads to engage new project teams.
With all the GIS groups, meetings, and conferences going on, do we really need another GIS organization in the state? What can Information Technology professionals gain from this group? What is it that makes the Geospatial Administrators Association unique in the GIS/IT community? Most anyone involved with Geospatial technology would agree that there are a great number of related opportunities already in existence, but for many, there still there seems to be some thing missing. This perceived void is what brought a group of GIS/IT managers from around the state to define the problem and consider a solution. As managers we all agreed that something is missing in the community, primarily relating to the challenges faced by those who are responsible for planning, developing, and managing a GIS and its related technologies. And these challenges are further complicated within the context of local government by the need to develop and support a diverse user community and demand for highly accurate and compatible data. The group of managers felt that an association was needed to support the unique challenges faced by geospatial administrators in closing the knowledge gap between GIS and IT professions and efficiently managing the organizational and business side of GIS. This organization should also help to build bridges of cooperation and synergy between local governments for more efficient, effective, and compatible solutions. There are plenty of good organizations providing a GIS technical training and forum for knowledge transfer. As GIS Administrators we will continue to participate and support them for the benefit they provide to our organizations. But the time has come for a management-focused organization like GAASC. If you are in a GIS or IT position, responsible for managing and directing some aspect of geospatial technology within a local government organization, and also feel the call to help fill this void, we encourage you to join us as we learn and grow together.