Last fall I had the opportunity to visit Esri at its headquarters in Redlands, CA as part of an Esri-ICMA White Boarding Exercise on Community Resilience. On one hand, I was completely amazed at how far we have come with assimilating data (big and small) into our daily operations, and on the other hand, completely baffled by my unawareness of the untapped potential of GIS platforms.
One area of that untapped potential centers around our ability to utilize our GIS platforms to address the impacts of climate resiliency on our communities. I am particularly proud of ICMA’s and Esri's partnership in supporting the White House Climate Data Initiative, but we will need to do our part in providing ideas and identifying use cases which will allow us to effectively utilize the data which lies in the public domain. This will allow us to stimulate innovation and promote private-sector partnerships in order to address our local, regional and national climate adaptation programs.
Next steps? I began with a discussion of where we are with my City’s GIS staff and came to the realization that we were farther ahead than I had thought, but not necessarily moving in the most strategic directions. It is clear to me that our roles as managers will be to sort through the infinite possibilities of GIS solutions and wrestle with the limited finite resources at our disposal in order to develop pragmatic solutions of our communities.
As we move forward to address the issues of climate change and adapt to new conditions, we must educate ourselves and our elected officials in the need to invest in GIS as a tool to effectuate solutions. I would start with the joint Esri-ICMA publication,“The GIS Guide for Elected Officials,” available from Esri Press.