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Assessing Geospatial Technology Implementation Capacity for Natural Resource Management Networks: A Proposed Framework

Charlynne T. Smith, Yu-Fai Leung, Erin L. Seekamp


Using the U.S. National Trails System (NTS), we examined the adoption and implementation of geospatial technologies for natural resource management (NRM). Technology adoption is the decision to use geographic information systems (GIS), whereby implementation represents the delivery of that technical system. We used soft technology, or the human characteristics of user skill and experience, to understand the capacity for delivery of the technical system across the network. The inter-organizational structure of geographically dispersed network members, characteristic of the NTS, provided opportunity to evaluate and compare GIS use and users for NRM. We inventoried GIS adoption and implementation for 23 trail network groups to produce a geospatial technology profile (GTP) of the NTS. Based on the GTP, we developed a framework to calculate an implementation capacity index (ICI) for each network, and then compared network capacity to the level of user engagement (application intricacy) deployed. Results show that higher implementation capacity is not indicative of higher levels of user engagement. Outcomes demonstrate the value of geocollaborative tool evaluations, highlighting the benefits of an assessment framework based on type and use of GIS platform. As an advantage in the process of evaluation, our proposed framework assists networks with implementation strategies, balancing user abilities and mapping capabilities. Additionally, the proposed framework provides a foundation to refine GIS implementation assessment for NRM networks. Understanding the range of GIS technologies and applications used by multiple, geographically dispersed networks can further inform development and deployment strategies that mitigate barriers to successful GIS implementation in inter-organizational scenarios.

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Natural resource management; GIS; implementation capacity; technology adoption; user engagement; inter-organization collaboration; U.S. National Trails System

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