GEOG 583
Geospatial System Analysis and Design



The first step of any design activity should involve efforts to understand what the new GIS system needs to produce, who its users are, and what context the system will work within. This phase of design is called Needs Assessment (also called Requirement Analysis in some cases). Defining the "needs" of the new system up front allows you to identify key design issues before implementation starts, and also provides a set of benchmarks against which you can evaluate the final system.

This week, we will explore several methods used for conducting Needs Assessment and talk about how they relate to the specific quirks of designing a GIS system.

Scene of Hurricane Katrina damage
Figure 2.01: Damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 resulted in the need for a wide range of new GIS systems to support disaster recovery.
Image credit: Anthony Robinson

The picture above highlights a real-world example. It's easy to imagine how you could use GIS to recover from a disaster, but it's essential to define exactly which tasks the GIS must perform before development gets started in earnest. The tasks might include the use of portable devices to capture detailed data in the field, or they might involve regional planning and forecasting activities. Both options would suggest very different systems.


At the successful completion of Lesson 2, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate understanding of the role of needs assessment in relation to GIS Design;
  • review a recent technology trend and discuss how it relates to GIS Design;
  • develop and describe an idea for the term project assignment;
  • read about Needs Assessment techniques and relate those methods to GIS in a discussion with your classmates.


Lesson 2 is one week in length. Please refer to Canvas for specific assignment instructions and due dates.


If you have questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them in the General Questions Discussion Forum in Canvas. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses and comments if you are able to help out a classmate.