Few people will dispute that elevation data is essential to growing a modern economy. Applications for geospatial data include infrastructure planning, community development, telecommunications, emergency preparedness, and natural resource management among many others. Obtaining accurate and current elevation data can be costly, so how do you show value for a regional or national elevation data acquisition?
Regional & National Goals: Because elevation data can be used for so many applications, start
by reviewing your strategic goals. The better you link elevation data benefits into those goals, the easier it is to justify funding. Are you trying to modernize the economy by growing business? Elevation data can be used to locate and manage telecommunication towers or antennas for improved business services. GIS data is also used for urban planning to grow business zones and for improved traffic flow between
residential and commercial zones. For more examples, read this article on how GIS contributes to regional goals.
Natural Resources: What are the regions greatest natural resources? If water is scarce, then elevation data can help you maximize water resources. Are there untapped minerals in the ground? Elevation data along with other datasets can be used to identify mineral deposits so production can be managed more efficiently. Is renewable energy a focus? Elevation data is widely used to identify optimum locations for wind and solar energy sites. Elevation data is leveraged in most all natural resources efforts.
Safety & Security: Elevation data is critical to such safety and security issues as emergency planning, disease prevention and control, national security, and defense. Governmental programs leverage this data to provide safety and security to its citizens.
Elevation data is essential to growing a modern economy. The potential applications are limitless but it’s important to demonstrate an ROI based on regional and national goals. The value you show can be as straight forward as the following yearly formula for each application.
(Expected application production with elevation data – current production)
Primary & Secondary Benefits: After acquisition benefits are tied into yearly goals (primary benefits), then you can add up the secondary benefits. These are the additional applications of elevation data beyond the short term goals. Check with other departments that can/should use elevation data and have them run the same formula above for their application(s). Then add up the primary and secondary benefits of acquiring a regional or nationwide elevation dataset.
How you monetize the value or return for your investment will determine how quickly, if ever, the project moves forward. Understanding regional and national priorities and demonstrating how elevation data is critical to reaching those goals will take you a long way towards their attainment.