January 2014
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Open Source GIS 101, Part 11: Why Learn About Open Source GIS?

Part 11: Why Learn About Open Source GIS? (and Final Overview of this Series)

There are many opinions about the risks and benefits of open source GIS software. Los Angeles County uses ArcGIS for its operational needs. After all, ArcGIS is mature, high quality software, and considerable resources have already been invested.

Even so, there are still individuals within Los Angeles County who carefully observe the evolution of proprietary and open source GIS software and continue to assess the benefits and risks. Only a few are listed below.

Open Source GIS Positives:

  • It has a very low initial cost. (It’s hard to beat FREE!)
  • Most desktop applications are easy to use.
  • Learning about open source GIS may enhance one’s ability to understand ArcGIS.
  • Skills in the use of open source GIS might be helpful in a natural disaster if a proprietary license manager is down.
  • Free desktop GIS viewers offer flexibility not available with many online viewers.

The Negatives:

  • Proprietary software is currently well established.
  • Commercial technical support for open source GIS can be expensive and difficult to find.

In summary, if your needs are simple, and if you are not afraid to rely on in-house staff for training and support, open source GIS may offer substantial savings in software costs for some organizations. Much of open source GIS’ growth has only happened in the last few years. Who knows how things will look five years from now?



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