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Getting the Results You Want from GIS

While attending the Esri User Conference this week, I learned that 20,000 local governments use GIS technology globally.  20,000!  Through peer-to-peer sharing and networking, that number represents a tremendous capacity for improved operations.  Isn’t it likely if your community builds a good app or dashboard that that tool it will work equally well for one or more of your neighbors?

As GIS technology moves to the Web and becomes increasingly intuitive for non-GIS professionals, the technology is transforming how local governments do business.  For local government managers, the challenge is to set high expectations and encourage their GIS team to work with all departments to create and innovate. 

Chris Cappelli, Esri’s Corporate Director, shared some tips from his own experiences on how local governments can establish a collaborative environment that delivers the results desired.

1.   Leverage GIS as an enterprise asset.  GIS isn’t just for a few departments within your local government. Treat GIS as a resource for all your departments.


2.  Focus your GIS professionals.  Let your GIS team members know what the priorities are for your organization and work with them to define how they can deliver on those priorities.


3.  Empower everyone with maps.  Some departments will enviably have a harder time envisioning how they can use GIS technology.  Show them how maps can work for them.


4.  Create a destination portal.  We all have portals that we go to in our personal life for information, like travel websites or reviews of consumer products. Portals have tremendous value in turning data into information that employees can depend on to do their jobs.


5.  Integrate with your other mission systems and data assets. Whether it’s an enterprise resource program (ERP) for budgeting and cost accounting or a work order management system for tracking projects, such systems need to be integrated and work together.  Stand-alone systems that don’t work with other systems in your organization add little value.


6.  Configure off-the-shelf software as a platform.


7.  Get involved personally.  Use maps, apps and dashboards and let your GIS team know what you like and don’t like about the product.


8.  Create map series that are tied to your business objectives.  Use the series to look for leading and lagging indicators associated with your business objectives.


9.  Organize effectively.  Have good people working throughout your organization and give them the support they need to innovate.


10. Promote a culture of sharing and collaboration.  In any organization, it’s easy to become overly focused on tasks directly related one’s job.  As a leader of your organization, remind people that they are an important part of a larger mission and help them see how working together can have an even greater impact.

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