Amber Bethell

Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Spatial Information Science and Engineering


Harlan J. Onsrud

Second Committee Member

M. Kate Beard-Tisdale

Third Committee Member

Michael F. Worboys


Use of geographic information systems is increasing in governments, commercial companies, and by individual users. With such pervasive use of GIs there has been surprisingly little investigation of the values that various parties would support in the development of geographic technologies. There are many parties involved in the use of GIs each with opinions of what are good goals for developing and using such systems. This research seeks to determine differences and similarities among parties in the importance placed on supporting specific societal goals germane to the use of geographic technologies and databases. Previous research determined six areas where the potential for disagreement between different parties involved in GIs might be high. The first phase of the research involved creating a survey. The survey was designed to determine to what extent conflicts are perceived to exist by those using and creating GIs and those who are subjects of such systems. Those sampled in the survey were asked how much value they would place on various societal goals. Each goal is believed to be a laudable goal by some parties using GIs. Response options ranged from unimportant societal goal to highly important societal goal. Statistical analysis of the results was performed. This allowed researchers to see if differences exist among the groups sampled for the value they place on supporting the goals. Various professional organizations with members involved in the use and development of geographic information systems are discussing the development of codes of conduct and recommendations for ethical education. The work done for this project hopes to serve as an initial step for creating ethical learning materials. The research also identifies areas where there is disagreement about what is beneficial for society so further research may be performed.