A COMPARISON BETWEEN FREE/OPEN-SOURCE AND COMMERCIAL GEOSPATIAL SOFTWARE TOOLS, BASED ON A CASE STUDY
The objective of this study is to highlight advantages and disadvantages of the use of commercial and free/open-source software for applications involving geospatial data. Based on a case study, we tried to compare such characteristics of the two categories of software, as easy implementation and good usability (also based on training or tutorial material availability), analytical and display capability and functionality, database creation, accuracy of the results produced.
The case study regards the realization of a GIS software toolbox in the frame of a project concerning the study of CO emissions caused by biomass burning on a global scale, for which it was requested to develop GIS tools in order to facilitate the management and spatial-temporal analysis of the data. Data consultation and processing was automated and the comparisons between different emission products was facilitated also for users who are not familiar with GIS environment. In fact, these tools allow the users to perform calculations in an intuitive and automatic way, and to define input and output parameters by means of a simple interface.
At first, the software toolbox had been developed using ArcGIS 9.3 integrated with Python 2.5 language and the Matplotlib library. Then it was decided to migrate to a completely free/open source environment, based on Quantum GIS 1.4, solving questions such as for example the modality of integration of Python plugins with the GIS software.
Future developments of the work should include comparison of ArcGIS to other free/open sourceGIS software, such as Open Jump or gvSIG, or comparison of open source GIS packages with one another.
Federica Migliaccio - Politecnico di Milano
Daniela Carrion - Politecnico di Milano
Cynthia Zambrano - Politecnico di Milano