GIGS: playing a key role in raising awareness of geospatial integrity

GIGS – Geospatial Integrity of Geoscience Software – can be used to evaluate and benchmark all elements of a software’s geospatial integrity. It has been developed and managed by IOGP for the past decade. Recently, the GIGS Expert Group, as part of the IOGP Geomatics Committee, significantly revised and re-released GIGS as version two with some updates and enhancements. IOGP recently interviewed Josh Townsend, Chair of IOGP’s GIGS Expert Group, about the GIGS project, its benefits to industry, and its success to date.

In the interview, Josh explains that GIGS is an open-source testing toolkit designed to evaluate the capabilities of your software in maintaining geospatial integrity. “It helps to develop high quality spatial software,” he says. “GIGS itself is made up of software development checklists, a huge test dataset and associated guidance documentation, and it’s all available on a single, easy-to-use website.”

What are the benefits of using GIGS?

Josh says that there is a history of geospatial integrity failures within the industry, and these can have significant real-world consequences with impacts on safety, efficiency, reputational damage, and GIGS is a tool to try and help prevent those. Members can use it to evaluate software that’s already in use within their organization or potentially evaluate and assess software that they’re about to purchase.

“I think we have also seen a real uptick in software vendors and developers using GIGS as a means of self-verification to promote market the geospatial functionality of their software. I guess ultimately geospatial integrity is good for business. It mitigates risks, it protects revenue, it helps drive better insights of your data,” he adds. “If your organization is regularly interacting with spatial data, then it’s really recommended GIGS testing is undertaken to make sure nothing is going wrong behind the scenes.“

What are the features of the GIGS software?

GIGS is made up of software development checklists – about 250 questions and answers that can be selected based on the functionality of your software, which gives the user a level and a rating and benchmarks the software against good practice. There are also quantitative elements to GIGS in the form of the test dataset, a compendium of synthetic geoscience data of approximately 10,000 test points that test functionality in terms of accuracy of computations.

All of this is underpinned by the guidance documentation that provides details about industry good practice when it comes to developing geospatial applications.

How successful has it been?

The amount of geospatial data and software that’s available to the industry is growing exponentially, and the issue of geospatial integrity isn’t going away. In fact, with trends towards in-house software development and agile practices, a lot of IOGP Members are saying that the opportunity for geospatial integrity failures is growing, and GIGS can help resolve this. “I think a measure of success of GIGS is that we’ve seen more users than ever interacting with the GIGS platform, particularly through the website,” says Josh.

“We are also seeing good collaboration with other geospatial industry bodies, OSDU, OTC, and a number of hydrographic offices, as well as collaboration on our GitHub. So again, that kind of geospatial integrity awareness we’ve witnessed is growing within the industry.“

Energy transition

There is a rapid growth in geomatics involvement in renewable energy installation and operation and with that comes a lot of new software, new data, and new data models that Members may not be familiar with. GIGS is leveraging the wealth and experience from the oil and gas industry to drive awareness of geospatial integrity in this emerging area.

For more information, visit the GIGS website at, which features guidance and documentation.

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