City of Brampton Press Release by IDVsolutions


									City of Brampton City Engages Citizens,
Delivers Better Information, with Interactive
The City of Brampton, Ontario, works to provide essential services to its citizens, cooperate
with neighboring municipalities, and compete to attract new businesses and residents. The
City wanted to make it easier for citizens to find information and engage with public services.
It developed an Internet-based Citizen Services Portal (CSP), where Brampton residents and
businesses can engage directly with City agencies and services; however, feedback indicated
that the old mapping application was too complex. After evaluating mapping technologies, the
City integrated IDV Solutions’ Visual Fusion and the Bing Maps Platform into the new CSP.
Now, CSP users can find what they need, and internal users in every city department can
efficiently provide up-to-date geographically based information. As a result, the City is
reducing costs, providing better services, and competing more effectively.

With a population of more than 500,000 and an annual growth rate above 6 percent, Brampton,
Ontario, is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. The third-largest city in the Toronto
metropolitan area, Brampton has a demographically young and culturally diverse population, and
the city has developed an economic base that includes advanced manufacturing, information
technology, and life sciences.

To continue to grow and promote prosperity for its citizens, the City of Brampton must compete
to attract new businesses and industries in addition to new residents. As Brampton grows, the
City has to help maintain and enhance the conditions that make Brampton an attractive place to
live and work. ―Citizens—especially an emerging demographic group of young, mobile
information workers—expect the same level of customer service that they get in the private
commercial sector,‖ says Robert Meikle, Chief Information Officer at the City of Brampton.

The City of Brampton provides its half-million residents with essential services such as fire;
planning and zoning; public works and transportation; economic development; parks and
recreation; and visitor support. The City also coordinates services and cooperates with
neighboring municipalities.
Figure 1. IDV mapping tool on the City’s CSP Portal. By expanding the menus in the right-hand
pane of the map interface, site visitors can click on options to expose the locations of City
facilities, services, and activities, such as road construction and closures. By resting the pointer
on an icon, users expose a pane with more details, such as schedules and location information.

While the City continually works to enhance the services it delivers, Mayor Susan Fennell
wanted to go further. She wanted to fundamentally change how Brampton citizens engage with
the City and the services it provides. She wanted City service agencies to be transparent and
responsive, and she wanted it to be more convenient for citizens to find and use the information
and services they need.

Toward that vision, the City began a year-long project to remake its website into the Brampton
Citizen Services Portal (CSP), which it built with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. The
City launched the CSP in 2009, and Brampton residents and businesses began using it to engage
with City agencies and services. They can find information, apply for permits, register and pay
for services, and contact City staff.

The city’s website included a geographic information system (GIS)–based mapping application
that provided the public with a way to access spatial information visually, whether they were
trying to locate a public jogging trail, find the nearest police station, or look up property
information. However, the application was complex, and some users complained that it was
difficult to find the information they wanted.

―To be honest, the GIS-based interface was not easy to use,‖ says Bill Latchford, Manager of IT
System Operations at the City of Brampton. ―We had to handle a lot of support calls, and we
actually held public education sessions about how to find things with the maps.‖

It was also difficult and time consuming to publish new information with the application, a task
that could be completed only by GIS and IT staff. As a result, information was not always
published in a timely manner, and GIS and IT staff were often being distracted from higher value

The City wanted to make it much simpler for the public to use maps on the CSP; at the same
time, it wanted to make it easier for internal business users to publish and manage mapping
information. To help streamline IT management, the City wanted its mapping solution to
integrate directly with the Office SharePoint Server 2007 environment that supports the CSP.

The City of Brampton utilized the expertise of Infusion Development to architect and implement
the core CSP Portal Platform, and then the City used a mapping solution called Visual Fusion
developed by Microsoft Gold Certified Partner IDV Solutions to create interactive mapping
applications for the CSP that work with the tools in Office SharePoint Server 2007. ―The
implementation of the Visual Fusion product was completed within a relatively short timeline,
with one dedicated City IT developer and in just three months,‖ says Alber Hanna, Manager of
CSP Program at the City of Brampton.
                            The City’s IT department evaluated several mapping options,
                            including Google Maps and Bing Maps Platform from Microsoft.
   By integrating           The City chose Bing Maps for two primary reasons: Bing Maps
   information and          would integrate easily with Office SharePoint Server 2007 and
   services with Bing       Visual Fusion, and its datasets are very accurate.
   Maps, we’re taking a
   big step toward          ―Our internal mapping data is accurate to within a foot, and Bing
   making Brampton          Maps fit seamlessly with our data,‖ says Latchford. ―Our decision
   more competitive.        makers put pressure on us to deliver, but they gave us the
  Bill Latchford            opportunity to make the common-sense decisions and move on. So
  Manager of IT             choosing Bing Maps was easy.‖
  System Operations,
  City of Brampton           With Bing Maps and Visual Fusion, the City can maintain detailed,
                             complex, and accurate geographic databases, while making it easy
                             for business users to publish the data. GIS specialists manage the
                             City’s core internal geographic data sets, such as the citywide
                             property fabric, aerial photos, and street network, updating the data
directly into the GIS database. Internal business users at Brampton can then combine built-in
functionalities in Office SharePoint Server 2007 with Visual Fusion to display information with
a spatial context.

Now, when a public user opens the mapping application on the CSP, he or she can navigate a
visual map interface that shows the boundaries of the City of Brampton. The user can zoom out
to see Brampton in a regional or even global context, or zoom in to street level, choosing
between roadmap and aerial photo views. From a right-hand pane, users can expand menus and
find options to expose different data layers over the map interface.

For example, from the Roadworks menu, Brampton residents or visitors can click options to
locate road closures, construction projects, or street-sweeping schedules. By resting the pointer
above an icon that locates a road closure, a site visitor exposes a pane with the location and
schedule of the closure. Clicking the icon opens a larger pane with details on the closure,
including the schedule and contact information (Figure 1). Other menus locate property
boundaries, zoning bylaws, economic development areas, schools, hospitals, police and fire
stations, parks, transit routes, City council districts, and other civic facilities, services, and
features, all with opportunities to quickly explore more detailed information.

Internal users in almost every City department can publish new information to the mapping
application without support from GIS or IT staff, and without needing GIS software installed on
their computer. They can use data from infinite sources, including web feeds, GISs, and other
databases, and with Visual Fusion, they can spatially enable data in a SharePoint list and
integrate it directly with the Bing Maps application programming interface.

The City of Brampton is using its Visual Fusion and Bing Maps solution to deliver timely,
accurate information in a visual format. Now, whether a Brampton resident is planning a bus
route to work or researching zoning codes, he or she can find the information quickly. City
departments can publish timely information to the mapping application without IT help, reducing
costs and saving time. The City is serving its citizens more effectively, and helping Brampton to
attract the residents and businesses it needs to remain dynamic and prosperous.

‖Making all this intelligence available on the City’s portal promotes the Brampton brand and
attracts investors,‖ says Susan Fennell, Mayor of the City of Brampton. ―We’re committed to
providing Bramptonians with the services they need to enjoy an exceptional quality of life.‖

More Efficient Operation
Because internal business users can publish information to the Bing Maps application on the CSP
without relying on GIS and IT support, and without needing licensed GIS software or the
training required to operate it, the City is saving time and money. For instance, the city saves
approximately U.S.$6,000 per user for software and training. ―Now, people can just spatially
enable a SharePoint list and post the data on the map themselves. The only thing the IT staff
needs to do is make sure they’re following standards,‖ says Latchford. ―People can focus on
doing their job and making the information available to whoever needs it.‖

   an emerging
   demographic group
   of young, mobile
   workers—expect the
   same level of
   customer service that
   they get in the
   private commercial

   Robert Meikle
  Chief Information          Since the City zoning department began publishing zoning
  Officer,City of            information on the mapping application, Plan Examiners have
  Brampton                   reported that the amount of time they have to spend assisting permit
                             applicants has dropped by 50 percent, time they can now use to
                             process more permits. Because Bing Maps was easy to deploy and
                             will be easy to manage, modify, and update, IT and GIS staff can
focus their efforts on higher-value tasks, and the City of Brampton can enhance the value of its
investment in the CSP and Office SharePoint Server 2007.
Better Services Delivered Faster
Because they now have easy access to accurate information, residents and businesses in
Brampton can get projects planned, approved, and initiated quickly, increasing the return on their

―In the past, if you wanted, say, zoning information about a property, you had to come in, fill out
a form and come back in 5 to 10 days,‖ says Latchford. ―Now, the most current information is
available at your fingertips on the web, and even if you come into the office, you can walk out
with what you need in minutes.‖

Engaged Citizens
With the CSP and Bing Maps, the City of Brampton is beginning a true dialog with its citizens.
By introducing a new, easy-to-use interface for its mapping application, Brampton has increased
public traffic to the CSP. Additionally, because it is so easy to publish information to the Bing
Maps application, internal users in every City department are updating the application more
often, which means the public receives fresher and more detailed information. If a zoning bylaw
is changed at a council meeting, for example, the information will be updated on the mapping
application in three days or less.

―We are tracking an overall increase of approximately 300 percent in site visits in just six months
after launch, without any marketing efforts,‖ says Hanna. ―We profoundly believe that by
architecting an intuitive and service-oriented public portal and by utilizing solutions such as
Visual Fusion and Bing Maps, it will invite more citizens and casual surfers to experience our
portal firsthand.‖

Staff in the City’s Economic Development Office have installed a business directory in the
mapping application. They intend to eventually allow Brampton businesses to manage some of
their own information in the directory.

―The Mayor has given us a tremendous amount of positive feedback on the site,‖ says
Latchford. ―She wanted to change how citizens of Brampton engage with their City, and Visual
Fusion and Bing Maps have been a huge part of fulfilling that strategy.‖

Competitive City
By making information more available, and delivering services more efficiently, Brampton can
compete more effectively with neighboring cities to attract and serve new residents and new
businesses. Businesses researching economic development initiatives in Brampton can find
accurate, up-to-date information quickly and easily. Real estate agents can use the mapping
application to print and distribute relevant zoning information to potential property buyers.

―We want to attract new business to Brampton.‖ says Latchford. ―By integrating information and
services with Bing Maps, we’re taking a big step toward making Brampton more competitive.‖

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