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Geospatial Maturity Index (GMI)

Following the success of the Open Cities Index, the first benchmarking program of its kind for municipal open data programs, PSD launched Canada’s first ever Geospatial Maturity Index (GMI) – a survey designed to benchmark the maturity of an organization’s GIS (geographic information system) program. The GIS program employed by today’s public sector organization looks quite different from the traditional “map-making” department that perhaps once existed in these organizations. GIS practitioners are skilled geospatial technicians, using location data to enhance decision-making capabilities, corporate communications, analysis, government transparency, and much more.

GIS teams exist as centralized departments in some government organizations, with others relying on strategic staff from across departments to work collaboratively on GIS initiatives. The smallest organizations have limited capacity to develop GIS programs, with usually one staff member working on some GIS activities off the side of his or her desk. And no two GIS departments are identical, as public sector organizations have taken different approaches to the development of GIS governance, implementation, and program development. As a result, performance measurement in GIS maturity is a significant challenge for Canada’s public sector organizations. In order to develop a plan to address gaps in maturity, GIS practitioners must be able to measure their own progress over time, but also benchmark against other similar organizations to not only help pace development, but also for inspiration and knowledge-sharing. 

Enter the Geospatial Maturity Index. The GMI is not an overly technical assessment of GIS systems, but rather an assessment of GIS maturity and capacity in the public sector. Other existing assessment frameworks, like URISA's GIS Capability Maturity Model, were designed to provide a theoretical model of a capable and mature enterprise GIS program. The GMI uses 77 survey questions to capture the GIS maturity of respondents within three categories: Readiness, Implementation, and Impact. These survey results can then be used to support performance benchmarking across the country.

In preparation to launch the GMI, PSD met with GIS practitioners and GIS organizations from across Canada to discuss the nuances of GIS terminology and the implications of potential survey questions. After hosting a national virtual round table session to gather further feedback, the 2018 GMI survey was finalized and disseminated to public sector organizations across the country this spring.

With 146 Canadian organizations completing the inaugural survey, it is with great enthusiasm that PSD announces that the City of Calgary has achieved the highest GMI ranking for 2018.


The City of Calgary’s first-place ranking can be attributed to a number of outstanding GIS practices, illuminated in the findings of the survey. For example, the City has dedicated project managers to guide the direction of all GIS projects, while 67 percent of respondents reported having no project managers in place. The City of Calgary has also implemented a GIS Communications Plan aligned with the City’s corporate strategic goals. 61 percent of survey respondents noted that a GIS Communications Plan had not yet been implemented in their respective communities. Congratulations to the City of Calgary!
The full report, including the list of the Top 25 GIS Programs in Canada, can be read here.