Case Studies

Geographic Information Officer: What it is and Why your State Needs One

A Geographic Information Officer (GIO)–sometimes called a chief information officer or data manager–is responsible for managing geospatial data and related applications, such as GIS. At the state-level, a GIO’s role is essential for effectively coordinating data activities at all levels of government, higher education, and with the private sector.

“Establishing a Geographic Information Office is a critical next step in the evolution of statewide GIS,” says Jim Sparks, Geographic Information Officer for the State of Indiana.

But not every state has a GIO.

The Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) recognized the benefits that a GIO could contribute to the state’s projects and data management, but before it could implement the position, it had to make sure it could sustain it.

To fully understand the business sustainability options to fund a GIO, the GTA worked with the University of Georgia and The Polis Center to develop a comprehensive sustainability study. This university team brought years of experience working with the State of Georgia as well as with other states on the implementation of GIS solutions.

“Georgia is poised to take advantage of the many years of great work accomplished by the GIS community,” says Sparks, who was also a collaborator on the study. “The missing ingredient is a credible, authoritative voice to coordinate geospatial endeavors; locate, integrate, and distribute geospatial data, and lead statewide GIS efforts.”


Click to access the full report

The study, completed in March 2015, consisted of research as well as interviews with nearly forty critical stakeholders in Georgia.  Additional interviews were also conducted with selected geographic information officers or their equivalents from multiple states that had implemented successful geographic information offices.

In May 2015 the State of Georgia posted a job opening for a Geographic Information Officer who is anticipated to be hired in the summer of 2015.  The Polis Center’s report will serve as a resource to help guide the GIO as it moves the State of Georgia forward along the path to successful geospatial collaboration.

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