Geographic information system applied to public lighting

Improving public lighting management

Definition, objective and added value

A geographical information system (GIS) allows its users to create, organize and analyze geographical data and to create plans and cards on the exact location of all existing components and characteristics of a public lighting system. Even more, it can be used as a management and planning tool that helps local authorities to improve:

  • Its knowledge of the status quo of the communal lighting system;
  • The management of its preventive and curative maintenance measures;
  • The planning of public works and investments ;
  • The monitoring of the impact of its works and investments on the quality of its infrastructure and service level.

Working methods

The realization of a GIS system is a multi-step project which involves:

a) A feasibility study. The assessment needs to be done regardless of the actual implementation of such a project. A company won’t be able to adjudicate on the feasibility and costs of a certain solution if the latter is not clearly defined in the first place. The study includes :

  • The definition and prioritization of goals which serves as a basis for
  • The identification of all necessary functionalities and
  • The modelling of the data base (data template)

b) Development:

  • Development of the data base "Public lighting" on the basis of the validated data template.
  • Configuration of the application and the data base.
  • Development of essential features and functions.

c) The installation of an IT division (incl. software and database) in the municipality. The IT division needs to be included since the early stages of the feasibility study.

d) Field and software training. It includes training on how to master the software as well as the tools and methods of collecting, controlling, integrating and updating field data within the GIS.

e) Collecting and integrating data on the basis of a clear and precise range of tools and methodologies. At this very step, a technical assistance or even outsourcing might have to be considered.

f) Implementation of rules and procedures for the management and updating of data. This involves the integration of the GIS in the procedures and the information system of the municipality, in order to turn it into a recognized day-to-day management tool which is regularly updated.


The first prerequisite of a successful GIS implementation resides in the political will and decision making of local policymakers. It necessitates the creation of a GIS unit with a transversal position within the operational services. A GIS manager in charge of this unit needs to be appointed and trained. He needs to be available and competent. Sufficient human and material resources need to be assigned to him: a team of field agents and data entry agents, appropriate workspace, computer equipment, etc.

Training the users of the GIS system is critical for the success of the entire project. It is not merely a question of understanding the software, but also of having a comprehensive understanding of the entire GIS, its objectives and the general context within which the employees work at each step of data management. For the employees in charge, this means being able to

  • prepare a suitable data base structure,
  • acquire new data or integrate existing data,
  • carry out data queries,
  • enhance data through thematic analyses,
  • creation of plans and cards.

Field technicians also need to be able to read the GIS plans and cards in order to then update data on the basis of newly incoming information from the field. They also should be able to use a GPS and light meter. It is equally important to assure that the premises of the GIS unit is large enough to accommodate a working table for the manipulation of printed plans for the collection and editing of data. The physical infrastructure is kept in a classic style and consists of several workspaces, a server and a printer or a plotter. It is essential to have a vehicle to do field visits. Last but not least, a light meter and GPS allow control measures to be carried out in a precise and timely manner.

Practical examples

Very few Moroccan municipalities use the GIS system for the management of public lighting. Where management is delegated to the private sector, the use of the GIS system is more common. It is being applied for mapping the lighting network of Casablanca, Salé, Tiznit and Marrakech. Central authorities increasingly encourage municipalities to adopt this tool, not only for the management of public lighting, but also for the management of other public services.

Reference documents in English


Reference documents in French, Arabic and German