I have been providing GIS services for local government for over a decade. I still get a kick out of presenting on enterprise GIS concepts or performing a GIS HealthCheck on a local governments GIS. I enjoy seeing the light bulb go off in a client’s head and listen to them pour out ideas on how to use the technology on an enterprise level.

Hmm, GIS is much more than a map, the concept is simple - the creation of a shared database that delivers data through a map. The shared database does not mean the creation of a single monolithic database that all users must use. The shared database implies that departments with different functions and responsibilities have common data needs and through GIS technology can seamlessly share data resources.

OK, when assessing a municipality, I look at departments and find that several departments may require knowledge of tax parcel locations to carry out their day to day functions. Or, the Fire department collects information on fire hydrants and the Utility department also collects information on the same hydrants. With the shared database the departments are able to consume each other’s data to get their particular job done. When using a shared GIS database, it’s not necessary for each department to store, manage, and update all of this information independently because all of them have access to the data electronically via the shared database. This also enables the data to be updated by its source department, thus eliminating a considerable amount of redundant work for the municipality.

The point of this post is to help others see the value of conducting cross departmental analysis and editing in order to become more efficient and informed about their infrastructure, population, resources, facilities and activities that are affecting them. And it doesn’t stop there - it extends vertically to other levels of government and horizontally to other municipal governments and private sector organizations in the same region.

Topics: enterprise GIS, Industry Insights, database

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