New GIS Tools

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Geographic information systems (GIS) technology allow local agencies and residents to access and share community information. Consider how the technology can improve data sharing in your community

What Happened?
GIS and geo-spatial tools are gaining traction for sharing data throughout communities. Both local agencies and residents can access key data points based on location, as well as identify changes or trends.

Fairfax App
One example of a GIS system is the searchable crime-data mapping app recently rolled out in Fairfax County, Virginia. The county’s Police Events application delivers search results in a map form, making it easier for users to visualize the information and interpret key data points.

The need for a GIS system became apparent when the county found it housed too much crime data to efficiently deliver information with the current system. It needed a more user-friendly format with location-based services, GCN reported.

Users can access the app from computers or mobile devices, and can search for crime activity based on a variety of event types as well as location, such as:

  • Assault
  • Drug offense
  • Sex offense
  • Stolen vehicle

The county reported search performance improved 10-fold after providing the user with a variety of formats to choose from when viewing the data results. The application cost $46,000 to be built and offers minimal costs to maintain.

Similar Maps
Other locations deploying GIS solutions include:

Some of the GIS solutions focus on specific types of data such as criminal reports or construction projects. Others built out an interactive map that will display locations of search results from a wide variety of data types – allowing the user to customize reports.

Why Map?
Geographic information systems (GIS) enable users to visualize, analyze and interpret data more effectively than scanning endless spreadsheets. Cities can showcase relationships, patterns and trends occurring locally by displaying the data in a visually appealing map format. According to ESRI, a GIS vendor, GIS is gaining popularity for a variety of reasons:

  • Increased Efficiency
    Cities can use GIS to keep track of fleet schedules and maintenance demands. Some cities have reported reduction in fuel use and staff time as a result of GIS technology, equating to around 30 percent in cost savings.
  • Simplified Communication
    Other communities have benefited from GIS technology by making it easier to communicate between agencies when coordinating projects. Using a simplified map layout, all participants can better collaborate on an initiative.
  • Accurate Record Keeping
    Some municipalities use GIS technology to maintain records on changing geography. The reporting tools associated with GIS apps make it easier to collect and integrate this data and reduce costs.
  • Advanced Information Sharing
    Every city can use GIS technology to accelerate and improve location-based decision making. No matter the project, GIS solutions provide updated data across a variety of categories to aid in real-time problem-solving and resource deployment.

When accessing information on GIS platforms, decision makers can view historical and real-time data, monitor trends and make predictions on community behavior.

Value of Data
EfficientGov has found data strategies to be vital components of modern public agencies, specifically connecting local agencies, decision makers and residents.

 

About the author

EfficientGov Staff

EfficientGov is an independent information service providing innovative solutions to fiscal and operational challenges facing cities and towns around the world.