GIS is computer software that links maps (geography) with information (data). This allows you to map, analyze, and assess real-world problems. The key word to this technology is Geography – this means that the data (or at least some portion of the data) is spatial, in other words, data that is in some way referenced to locations on the earth. Coupled with this data is usually tabular data known as attribute data. Attribute data can be generally defined as additional information about each of the spatial features. An example of this would be schools. The actual location of the schools is the spatial data (so the school is a spatial feature). Additional data such as the school name, level of education taught, student capacity - would make up the attribute data. It is the partnership of these two data types that enables GIS to be such an effective problem solving tool through spatial analysis.
Government and Municipalities
Government organisations and municipalities manage projects and assets (infrastructure). Some of the biggest impediments to effective governance have been identified as a lack of coordination and information sharing. For spatial features such as the location of projects and assets, GIS is the perfect tool for understanding and managing your projects and assets, and also for sharing that information between organisations. If you are not using some form of GIS to manage and share project and asset information, you are not actually managing your projects and assets, or sharing your information as required.
An effective GIS system structure
Keep it simple. In the Eastern Cape especially, the critical part of GIS is finding the right staff. Don't be sold on an expensive solution you wont be able to find/afford staff to maintain.
The diagram below is a simple enterprise level GIS structure, showing the basic components. Remember, storage for the large GIS datasets is often overlooked.