QGIS: a genuine alternative in public sector GIS

The OpusMap Team have been using GIS for over 30 years. Alan from the Team was one of the first users in the UK of ESRI’s ARCINFO as it was known in the 1980’s and 1990’s; a command line system long before the Windows operating system took hold.

We use a number of proprietary GIS in-house on a daily basis in support of projects we work on. GIS is an integral part of our data creation, analysis and editing work; everything from checking the accuracy of linework through to building highly attributed spatial databases.

OpusMap isn’t a GIS; its purposes is to add value to GIS data by making it more accessible to people who are familiar with the web and prefer to access maps data via the familiar interface of a web browser. OpusMap uses OMG (Object Management Groups) standards so that all map data is treated “like for like” no matter what system it was created in or supplied from. Having GIS in-house allows us to take our clients data in its proprietary format so that we can work with the client to identify if there are any issues with their data prior to it being published on the web via OpusMap.

We know GIS, its strengths and its weaknesses. We have our own preferences for undertaking certain operations in one GIS rather than another. If you are a regular GIS user, we’re sure you do too.

However, prompted by the rise in costs of upgrades to all these software we are having a hard look at QGIS as a viable alternative, as are a number of our Council clients. Like QGIS our own OpusMap runs on Open Source code so as a business it makes sense to move in this direction.

But why now?

In the past, we have have been reluctant to introduce yet another desktop GIS as we would still have to keep up to speed with the legacy software we maintain. That’s unlikely to change in the near future and in business terms we need to know what the well-established GIS vendors are doing.

However, QGIS is shaping up to be a genuine game-changer. That’s why we’re heavily road-testing its capabilities this year and will be rolling out developments for OpusMap in conjunction with QGIS

So, what’s so great about QGIS?

1.It’s free & open source!

You may doubt its capabilities considering the (lack of) price tag, however, QGIS is equally as capable as many paid-for software programs – in fact, some of the plugins available cannot be found in the big brands and if they are, they come at a cost!

2.Over 200 plugins and an incredibly useful toolbox

QGIS offers a massive range of spatial analysis and data management tools for complex tasks and you can easily add layers from places such as Google Street Maps and Bing Roads with the many plugins available.

3. User community

QGIS comes with its own huge user community from whom you can easily access help and advice online in the form of forums and videos. This community has led to consistent developments and improvements in the software, and the bonus is, all upgrades are completely free!

4. Cross-device functionality

QGIS is available on Mac, PC, Linux and android devices.

5. Highly customisable

This gets to the heart of why we love QGIS. We can develop applications with it in support of our clients and in support of OpusMap. It’s the best of both worlds for us. OpusMap gives us the ability to develop applications for interactive web mapping while QGIS gives us the ability to develop applications for digital mapping and client data.


map using QGIS

If you’d like to know more about QGIS or the plans we have for OpusMap and QGIS, or simply if you’re looking at QGIS yourself, please let us know. You can get in touch by emailing: enquiries@bluefoxtech.co.uk or by visiting the Contact Us page.

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