February 2014: GIS-based Municipal Information System (GMIS) for Improved Urban Planning

In many developing countries, there is a growing trend towards decentralization from national government to regional, sub-regional and municipal governments. This growing trend has resulted in an increased need for municipalities to obtain more precise and useful information for effective decision-making and the need to increase revenue collection to fund services. Many regional and municipal governments lack the tools needed to allow municipal governments to conduct urban planning activities and collect the necessary data to collect property and land taxes from residents. GIS technology provides a powerful tool to assist municipalities in transitioning to a decentralized system.

As part of the Strengthening Municipalities for Urban Service Delivery (SMUSDP) Project in Nepal, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Cowater has developed a specialized GIS-based Municipal Information System (GMIS). This user friendly, web based GIS application supports the planning and operational functions of project municipalities, which can be accessed through both intranet and extranet environments. A special feature GMIS is its ability to serve all users (especially non-GIS trained staff) enabling them to view, and make basic information requests to support their regular work needs.

Adopting an innovative hybrid approach, using both commercial software (ArcGIS) and open source systems, GMIS was customized to permit the creation and maintenance of attribute databases, produce general digital maps for each municipality, provide for spatial based query capabilities and allow basic GIS-based data analysis. The system also includes spatial features for visualizing buildings, streets, land use patterns, utilities, topographic features, roads, socio-economic information, property tax, and house addressing, all of which are key information sources for effective and efficient planning, monitoring and management decision making at the municipal government level.