Remaining ahead of the enemy in all circumstances is crucial to any military power.
Technology, especially GIS, has become a key factor in military operations. GIS can
provide the military commander with geospatial information about the theatre of war that
can assist him in the planning and execution of his mission. Unfortunately, technology
usually comes at a price. GIS software is no exception. The cost of acquiring and
maintaining GIS software and software training can be high. The cost of proprietary
software limits the use of GIS in military operations. GIS software packages can be divided
into proprietary and Free and Open Source Software for GIS (FOSSGIS) packages. GIS
software packages consist of numerous tools and functionalities to assist military
operations with geospatial queries, analysis and product creation. This study was done in
order to evaluate FOSSGIS as a feasible alternative to available proprietary GIS software.
FOSSGIS was evaluated in terms of prescribed GIS functionalities, user-friendliness and
costs. Should the comparison be favourable, to what extent can FOSSGIS replace
proprietary GIS software in military operations? QGIS was used as the FOSSGIS
application to compare against ArcGIS. The GIS functionalities that were evaluated were
identified by means of the literature study as well as the development of a use case.
Results show that all GIS functions tested in this study could be successfully performed by
both software products. These results are interesting, since it shows that units or
directorates can successfully deploy FOSSGIS in certain use cases in order to expand the
existing GIS capabilities for military operations.