The Perspective of Information Management and GIS Database
- Toward Internet Based Spatial Information -

Bambang Rudyanto

Asian Disaster Reduction Center, IHD 3F, 1-5-1 Wakihama Kaigan Dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi 651-0073, Japan


The data that currently exists on the internet is merely non spatial data, but with the computer's speed capability the spatial data will also soon dominate the internet. To prepare for this, understanding the concept of GIS database and information management is a must. Failure to understand this concept will create only conventional and multidirectional information.

Keywords: Information Management, Database, GIS, Spatial Information, Internet

1. Introduction

Information Management is a field of strategy for decision support systems, lead by user needs, also as a media, covered by science and technology, for handling and distributing information. Information Management is multidisciplinary and borderless. Historically, it started in the 1960s in the United States as MIS (Management Information System) when some enterprises used a network to bring the data with method of bottom up for decision support systems. MIS is a general term for the computer systems in an enterprise that provide information about its activities, also used to refer to the people who manage the system. Broadly, it has the meanings of: decision support systems, resource and people management applications, project management and database.
In the 1990s US Computer manufactures started to implement SIS (Strategic Information System) as a top-down method for decision support systems. Currently, this has changed to DSS (Decision Support System) and as a trend, Expert System and Geographical Information System (GIS) are the most famous field. Expert System is a system that brings information from human expertise to the computer system. It is also known as "Expert Computing Systems", or "Knowledge Based Systems".
GIS is a computer system capable of assembling, storing, manipulating, and displaying geographically referenced information. GIS technology can be used for scientific investigations, resource management, and development planning. For example, a GIS might allow emergency planners to easily calculate emergency response times in the event of a natural disaster, or a GIS might be used to find wetlands that need protection from pollution.
But there are some hurdles in using GIS, which are: @ GIS is not familiar to the user, it seems very difficult A Expensive to get and difficult to obtain GIS data B No standardization C No good education system for transferring the knowledge D No experts who understand multi aspects. In this paper both GIS, and Information Management in general is reconsidered as a new decision support system.
2. Information Management
People seem to act as through they understand all the information, because of employment, social, economic and technological-related pressure. A person that has the ability to use e-mail, fax, and the internet will be considered as a credible person. Additionally the use of these media is possible 24 hours, in the office, at home, during leisure or in-between. People do not want to miss new information.
Generally, information is unlimited. But if it is really unlimited, someday, or even now it seems already overloaded with the capacity of human being/ user. The growth of information is not linear as before, it has exponential growth, with data doubling in shorter time than before. It has the characteristic of being simultaneous and multidirectional. While the capacity of the user remains the same, information on the other hand has unpredictable speed.
Perhaps it is not too much "information," but an explosion of "non-information" (Wurman 1989). Also, Milton (1989) suggests that it is possible to have "negative information"--that which causes the recipient to know less than before because it is not integrated, applied, and transformed into knowledge. "Almost all of our resources are dedicated to gathering the raw material--information--and almost nothing is spent on the most important job of transforming information into intelligence" (Milton 1989, p. 6). If it is presumed that the transformation of information into intelligence as the tertiary data, the primary data will be the metadata the form of numerical, statistical or geographical data. The secondary data will be the use of primary data for the purpose of user needs, and will depend on the skill and the capacity of the user. As described above not only the tertiary data is insufficient, but the duplication of secondary data is too great. The user more likely uses the primary data for similar purposes, even though the primary data is incorrect and imperfect. The development of primary data will take time and money, and the profit will not come soon after the primary data collected. Therefore, the volume and the speed of secondary data will be higher than the primary. It seems that information is overloaded, but in fact, it is still poor.
The problem of information overload also has both technological and human aspects. The solution is also two pronged: both technological--create better technological tools and make better use of them--and human--revise mental models and sharpen the capacity for critical reflection and analysis (Kerka, 1997).

3. Information Management and Internet

Most of the information needed is already on the Web. Now, the key to information management is how to control and to select the information. The Internet gives the impression that the pace of change has accelerated, but Dvorak (1996) attributes that to the fact that the Web has simply removed natural barriers between people and information they would otherwise never see. It may all have been out there before, but it was not easily accessible. In addition, because everyone can create her/ his own Web, the responsibility for quality control is now on the user. The user has to have the capability to select appropriate information, but if even the selection is able to be done, the accuracy of the right information can be still poor, and there is no standard of selection. To some extent search engines help with selection. But generally, search engines categorize information differently than people do, providing uniform and equal access to everything. Many providers just supply huge storage data without any consideration of transferring information into intelligence. Or the output will still depend upon the criteria of business profit, as the one who pays more will be the first. Wurman (1989) sees a need for translators and interpreters who focus on making information accessible and comprehensible. Berghel (1997) also wants information providers to grade, rank, review, annotate, and repackage information. Like the auction web, the information data has to have credibility, showing that the information is the right information, at least comparing with other informaion. A future search engine has to have this function of managing information into the right information that is actually needed by the user.
The current education on Information Technology also has to shift from only software and hardware education into information management, or in the current situation it is better known as "internet sociology". The education paradigm has to shift from Silicon Valley to the "icon valley", so that it will not just be education for software and hardware only, but people can better understand "icon" ,which is information management.
As lifelong learners themselves, adult educators can demonstrate for learners that the key to information management is self-management: knowing what we need to know (Kerka, 1997). Shenk (1997) and Alesandrini (1992) offer some strategies for finding the way through the data smog onto that pathway: (1) be our own filter--turn off unneeded data streams; (2) be our own editor--ask whether the information we disseminate is absolutely necessary; and (3) use both a wide-angle and a zoom lens--"those who survive information overload will be those who search for information with broadband thinking but apply it with a single-minded focus" (Alesandrini 1992, p. 92). Shenk (1997) believes that concern about information have-nots is misplaced: everyone needs education more than information. "Education is the one thing we can't get overloaded with. The more of it the better" (p. 203).


4. GIS Database

Generally, the GIS database can be divided into 2 components:
a) Spatial data - consisting of maps which have been inputted by field surveys or by the interpretation from Aerial Photograph or Satellite data
b) Numerical or statistical data - showing some number as socio-economic characteristics from census and other sources in connection with spatial data, which describes what is at a point, along a line, or in a polygon.
For the purpose of developing the GIS database, there are 3 steps that must be implemented:
a) GIS database design
The design of the GIS database will include three major elements [NCGIA, 1990]:
1) Conceptual design, which must be independent of hardware and software. This element defines what the application needs to confirm with the ultimate purpose of the database.
2) Logical design, which extends the demand from the concept by adapting in a logical way in more specific detail.
3) Physical design, which means characteristics of the hardware and software. It is to design the memory, hard disk, communication line, software and other requirement. It is more based on the experience of a GIS expert rather than from standardized system.
The success or failure of a GIS project is determined by the strength of the design, and the speed of the design activity.
b) GIS database creation
Based on the design, the GIS database is created with the consideration of resources, time and standard. Usually, compare to the 2 other steps, this stage needs more resources and time to finish. But once it has been completed the core of the database can be easily updated and managed.
c) GIS database updating and management
The GIS database must be updated frequently so that it will not become "negative information" and so that it will easily adapt to changes.
Without implementing the above 3 factors, the database created will be useless. The information management of GIS database is also the key factor to handle the right data.


5. Conclusions

There is not actually an "information overload", but rather too much "non-information", which will become gradually more difficult for the user to select, absorb and adapt with new information. Not only is the transforming of information into intelligence still poor, the progress of matadata development is slow. It is just a new medium known as the Internet, that simply removed natural barriers between people and information. Even before, information had been largely collected, but it was not as easy as with the presence of the internet. With the information on the internet, the responsibility for quality control is now on the user. For this reason, future search engines must have a function to manage the information based on the needs of the user. Also, the current education paradigm has to shift from silicon valley to "icon valley", so that it will not be an education of software and hardware only, but people can better understand "icon", which is information management.
One issue of information management is the issue of designing, creating and managing a GIS database. It is not just for software and hardware, but also needs a concept and continuous updating process. The data that exists now on the internet is merely non-spatial data, but with the speed and capabilities of computers spatial data will also have a dominant presence on the internet in the near future. To begin preparation for this understanding the concept of GIS database and information management is a must. This kind of education is a key factor in the development of Information Technology in the future.