Geographical Information Systems (GIS) were first introduced in the developing world by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to promote environmental conservation activities in in the mid-80s. There have been far fewer studies on the diffusion of GIS in developing countries as compared to industrialized countries. All diffusion studies use a common framework, the Diffusion of Innovations theory. Most of the studies carried out in developing countries have focused on the public sector, and ignored the nongovernmental organizations (NGO), International Organizations (IO), academic, and private sectors. What is the current state of GIS in all these sectors in developing countries? A holistic understanding of the current state of GIS is important to governments in developing countries for the planning of geospatial infrastructure. It is also important to the World Bank, United Nations, and international development agencies, such as the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for planning effective policies on technology transfer to developing countries. The research in this dissertation is based on a case study of GIS diffusion in Uganda. I argue that there are a number of political, social, economic, and technological factors that have led to varying degrees of GIS diffusion in Uganda's public, academic, NGO, IO and private sectors. I also argue that future trends in GIS in developing countries point to a shift from desktop to mobile platforms because of the ubiquity and pervasiveness of mobile phones. What is the potential for mobile location-based services (LBS) as alternative tools for promoting spatial thinking and spatial awareness, and for supporting spatial decision making in civil society? A mixed methods methodology is employed in this research, and facets of diffusion of innovations theory are tested. Further, the research analysis utilizes the five perspectives of GIS and Society discourse to investigate the evolution and current state of GIS in Uganda, and the potential for LBS.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2012. Major: Geography. Advisor: Robert B. McMaster. 1 computer file (PDF); xiv, 592 pages, appendices A-J.
The state of GIS in developing countries: a diffusion and GIS & society analysis of Uganda, and the potential for mobile location-based services.
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