Consider the use of a GIS in some applications to have it print out lists, catalogs, or tables of numbers—of which 99 percent are never viewed. This type of output can be replaced on a periodic or as-needed basis. There is also the option of putting such information on the Internet, but that may make it less accessible in some instances.
While printing a lot of paper sounds wasteful, it may be cost-effective. Consider the example of a telephone book. Despite duplication, paper, and distribution costs—and the fact than an information service is provided over the phone—it is less costly to organize and provide mostly unwanted information to each customer in a region rather than respond dynamically to the customers’ need for information at a particular point in time. On the other hand, the phone company does not provide a list of subscribers for the entire nation. The key point is that the issue of product utility and cost must be looked at in a comprehensive way—not just in terms of time, materials, or human effort alone.4