GIS helps government chart a forward course by ProQuest


Government agencies are using geographic information system (GIS) solutions in combination with other applications to consolidate information and help reduce stovepiping. Those solutions have proven to be highly effective at visualizing information to make data-driven decisions. The use of GIS technology in government ranges from natural resource management to homeland security. The GIS program in Oregon has been nearly a decade in the making. From a clearinghouse of information accumulated for many small GIS projects, the program has grown into a coordinated enterprise effort that benefits government agencies throughout the state. The Memphis Police Department is using predictive analytics in conjunction with GIS technology to analyze crime patterns and deploy its resources more efficiently, thereby reducing crime rates. The MPD partnered with the University of Memphis to develop Blue CRUSH (Crime Reduction Utilizing Statistical History) as a way to improve the quality of life for citizens impacted by street crime.

More Info
helps government
chart a forward course
By Judith Lamont, KMWorld senior writer

        overnment agencies are using       business activities. The Oregon GIS            “The other participants are moti-     integration and fewer layers of

G       geographic information system
        (GIS) solutions in combination
with other applications to consolidate
                                           Web site notes that at least 80 percent
                                           of information collected and managed
                                           by government is geographic, contain-
                                                                                      vated to get the data to ODOT,”
                                                                                      Smith explains, “because it’s in their
                                                                                      interest to have the information cen-
                                                                                                                                bureaucracy. For example, each of
                                                                                                                                Oregon’s 36 counties maintains its
                                                                                                                                own data for identifying land parcels.
information and help reduce stovepip-      ing information either about a location    trally available.”                        Standards were developed to enable
ing. Those solutions have proven to be     or about an event at a particular              The state selected ESRI (    the Department of Revenue to roll up
highly effective at visualizing informa-   location. Nevertheless, to some degree,    as its GIS platform. ESRI’s ArcGIS is     counties’ data into a statewide parcel
tion to make data-driven decisions.        the broad approach to GIS went             a desktop GIS application that many       map. A team of just four individuals
Awareness of GIS capabilities in           against the prevailing mindset of          state and local agencies use to main-     in the GIS office coordinates the
general has been heightened by the pro-    government tasking.                        tain base mapping layers such as          data, which feeds directly into the
liferation of consumer-oriented map-           “The structure of government is        roads, addresses and water features,      public-facing Web site. Without that
ping applications, such as Google          based on silos,” says Cy Smith,            and business-specific map data layers     site, many government agencies, pri-
( Maps, which are often         statewide GIS coordinator in Ore-          such as surplus land, vacant facilities   vate citizens and businesses would
used in mashups to present real estate     gon. “Money is pushed down silos to        and pavement conditions. ArcGIS           have to make separate arrangements
listings or other information that has a   do a task. We wanted to create a for-      Server is the GIS application server      for use of the information.
geographic component. The use of GIS       malized structure to connect the silos     that enables integration of data from         Processes that might otherwise be
technology in government ranges from       for particular business processes.”        numerous agencies and different sys-      difficult to complete are facilitated
natural resource management to home-           One of the first steps in developing   tems, including enterprise resource       by the use of GIS. For example, land
land security.                             the program was to establish a data        planning (ERP) systems. Many of           use permits may be evaluated at the
    The GIS program in Oregon              framework. “Many agencies require          Oregon’s major agencies use ArcGIS        city, county, state and federal levels.
( has been nearly a         the same data, and we did not want to      Server to host their own business-spe-    “Landowners who want to develop
decade in the making. From a clear-        develop it over and over,” continues       cific map data layers, which can then     property need to apply for a permit
inghouse of information accumu-            Smith. “We defined 14 themes, such         be shared with other agencies or pub-     and make sure the property is not
lated for many small GIS projects,         as roads, elevation and surface water,     lic-facing applications.                  within an area that has a high-value
the program has grown into a coor-         which each contain specified data              The technology enables the fusion     soil, forest or wetland,” says Smith.
dinated enterprise effort that benefits    sets.” The themes represented the          of business-specific layers into a        “The map overlays contain quantita-
government agencies throughout the         information most frequently required       single reporting and analytics tier       tive information that provides these
state. One of the most recent initia-      by government agencies.                    using just the underlying geospatial      analyses at a glance.”
tives is a system for tracking the             In addition, stewards were sought      data to integrate the systems.                Data contained in the GIS data-
stimulus funds (see KMWorld,               to have primary responsibility for             “Data layers can be drawn from        bases is used in environmental
July/August 2009). That effort was         each data set. In some cases, there is     any system and then brought into the      impact statements for road building
greatly facilitated by the existing        a clear connection between the data        map,” says Rob McDougald, account         and other development. “The Water-
GIS infrastructure, which includes         and steward, such as road data pro-        manager at ESRI. “An enterprise-          shed Enhancement Board and the
databases for managing geospatial          vided by the Oregon Department of          scope GIS deployment like Oregon’s        Department of Fish & Wildlife have
information, a user interface, analyt-     Transportation (ODOT). In others, a        growing system is a very effective        an ongoing program to eliminate fish
ical tools and one or more delivery        group’s responsibility is extended to      way to provide information across         passage barriers, so they are remov-
platforms including desktop, laptop        serve the common good. For exam-           many government agencies and to           ing culverts that interfere with
or mobile devices.                         ple, ODOT does not use addresses,          the public.”                              migration of salmon and other fish,”
    Part of the motivation for develop-    relying instead on mileposts as its            An enterprise approach to GIS         Smith says. “The state has a much
ing the GIS program was the recogni-       point of reference, but it was the         technology, spatial data management       easier time managing this project
tion of the central role that geographic   most logical agency to maintain            and GIS-based Web analytics serv-         because the database contains the
data plays in both public and private      the addresses.                             ices provides greatly enhanced data       locations of over 30,000 culverts.”

10     KMWorld      September 2009                                                                                                     
    The GIS data also helps the state      efficient approach to reducing crime,
meet federal mandates for reporting        according to Christopher Vaden,
how many road miles are maintained         intel/analyst officer at the MPD.                                     GIS market size and growth
by city, county and state entities.        Fifty people in the department were
                                                                                            Daratech (, a market research firm specializing in
“These figures are important because       trained to use Blue CRUSH, provid
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