GIS Implementation in Malaysian Statutory Development Plan System

GIS Implementation in Malaysian Statutory Development Plan System

Muhammad Faris Abdullah (International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia), Alias Abdullah (International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia) and Rustam Khairi Zahari (International Islamic University Malaysia, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-929-3.ch023
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The chapter presents the current state of GIS implementation in Malaysian development plan system. It offers an overview of GIS implementation worldwide, touching briefly on the history of GIS, planners’ early acceptance of the system, factors that promote GIS implementation, level of usage among planners, and factors that impede successful GIS implementation. At the end, the chapter provides a comparison between the state of GIS implementation in Malaysian statutory development plan system with the state of GIS implementation worldwide. The evidence was derived from three main sources: literature, empirical observation of GIS implementation in Malaysia, and a survey conducted in 2008.
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After over two decades since its introduction into the planning fields, geographical information systems (GIS) has become one of the important tools-of-the-trade for planners (Ceccato & Snickars, 2000; Drummond & French, 2008; Gocmen, 2009). Despite planners’ early resentment towards GIS, they have now become one of the most frequent users of the systems (Budic, 2000; Ceccato & Snickars, 2000; Geertman, 2002; Gilfoyle & Wong, 1998; Gocmen, 2009). In describing planners’ early resentment towards GIS, Klosterman (1997) points out that this was largely due to past failures of efforts to computerize planning, such as the failure of large-scale urban modelling. Early GIS implementation was also expensive, and the software was highly complicated for planners liking.

Beginning in the middle of 1980s, the adoption of GIS among local governments in the United States of America began to increase slowly, and then sharply in the 1990s (Drummond & French, 2008). Researchers attributed this change in GIS adoption rate to better and cheaper hardware and software availability, as well as better GIS data accessibility (Drummond & French, 2008; Geertman, 2002; Gilfoyle & Wong, 1998; Klosterman, 1999).

Key actions by governments also helped to accelerate GIS adoption in the 1990s. For instance, the publication of Chorley Report in 1987 has helped to increase GIS awareness and provided fundamental directions for GIS development in Britain (Gilfoyle & Wong, 1998). In Wisconsin, U.S.A., the state-funded Wisconsin Land Information Program and the enactment of the Comprehensive Planning Law of 1999 have significantly contributed to increase GIS adoption in the state (Gocmen, 2009).

Since the 1990s, the use of GIS among planners has been widespread. Planners began to adopt this ‘new’ method in the course of their work, especially in terms of map-making and land data storing. GIS-based information systems were developed and deployed to allow planners and stakeholders better access to information and data (Craglia & Signoretta, 2000; Gilfoyle & Wong, 1998; Heeks, 2002). However, widespread implementation of GIS in the planning field does not translate into full utilization of GIS application. Research indicates that planners’ regular use of GIS has been largely limited to the basic functions of the systems, such as mapping and accessing land information, for routine operational and management tasks including permit processing, land data storing and map presentation (Budic, 2000; Gill, Higgs, & Nevitt, 1999; Klosterman, 1997; Mennecke & West, 2001). Even at present, prevalent use of GIS among planners continues to centre on rudimentary applications while advanced applications, such as spatial analysis and modelling, remain underutilized (Gocmen, 2009).

While GIS application among planners continues to be underutilized, the fate of GIS-based information systems is more difficult to assess, mainly because such assessment is highly subjective and timing-dependent (Heeks, 2002). What is considered a success to one person may be a failure to another, and what is considered a success today may be a failure tomorrow. The difficulty in assessing the success and failure of GIS-based information systems is made worst by the propensity of system developers to only report success story. However, several authors suggest that there are many cases of failed GIS-based information systems (Abdullah et al, 2002; Heeks, 2002; Lee & Ahmad, 2000). For instance, Heeks (2002) says that,

Key Terms in this Chapter

State Department of Town and Country Planning: Each state in the Peninsular Malaysia has its own Town and Country Planning Department which oversees the planning and development matters within the State boundary and provides advisory services to the State government. State Town and Country Planning Department also acts as local planning authority, handling development control affairs for areas within the state, which are not under the jurisdiction of any local authority.

Statutory Development Plan: Development plan which preparation is required by law.

Executive Information Systems: Computerized systems that are developed to provide important information in a concise manner to senior executives. This information can be used by the executives in making decision over a business problem.

Development Plan: A plan which is usually prepared by planners to guide or promote development in an area. It usually contains maps of the area, and planning policies and proposals for the area.

GIS-Based Systems: Computerized systems which are developed using GIS software as the platform.

Decision Support Systems: Computerized systems that can be used to help users in making decision over complex and ill-structured problems.

Federal Department of Town and Country Planning: Is the planning authority at the Federal level that is responsible in charting the general direction of planning and development for the nation. Its functions also include promoting town and country planning in Malaysia and providing advisory services to the Federal Government and planning authorities at State and Local levels. It also provides technical and monetary supports to State and Local level planning authorities in the preparation of their development plans.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS): Computerized systems that can be used to store, analyze and display spatially-referenced data.

Local Planning Authority: Local planning authority of an area is usually the local authority of the area, such as city hall, the municipal council or the district council. It is responsible in regulating, controlling and determining the planning and development direction of its area.

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