In the mid-1990s, Carver County, Minnesota, began to implement its GIS system to help improve decision making in land use. At first there were only a small number of users, but since that time the use of GIS has spread throughout the county.
Expanded Use Internally and Externally
In 2000, Carver County’s information technology department began to push expansion of the GIS system, and this only intensified when the county implemented Esri’s ArcGIS Online program. This allowed users to create and share maps, scenes, apps, layers, analytics, and data.
With this program, staff began to make a conscious effort to look at each department internally and brainstorm how GIS applications could be helpful. The assessor’s office staff members, for example, are now able to upload taxation data while working outside of the office, where before staff members would have to fill out forms and manually enter information to a database. Other county departments also saw how GIS could improve their processes and requested its implementation.
What’s unique about geographic data is that it doesn’t end at governmental boundaries. In 2009, county leaders established a small government enterprise agreement (EA). Shortly after the EA went into effect, Esri introduced ArcGIS Online as a complimentary service to small local governments with an EA.
EA enabled the county to expand access to GIS without having to manage more desktop licenses. Due to this development, Carver County was able to offer its GIS software to cities within the county. These cities now have the benefit of GIS that they might not have been able to afford on their own.
Benefits of GIS in Carver County
1. Increased Efficiency. As noted above, the assessor’s office was able to cut down on the amount of time staff members spent entering tax data. This case study states that due to the implementation of GIS software in the past 10 years, the county doubled the number of land parcels and increased the number of inspections without creating a new staff position.
2. Regional Collaboration. The biggest driving force in the expansion of GIS to the cities is the availability of utility data in decision making. These data updates are completed annually, and engineers and consultants are not needed to complete them. Local staff are trained and equipped to gather and manage the data. This helps Carver County and the local governments located within it.
3. Affordability for All. Not only is Carver County saving money in staff and consultants, it is also sharing costs with local communities. Cities in Carver County are sharing the GIS system rate, and they are paying based on their population size, which also amounts to significantly less than paying for their own desktop system.
This blog post was developed from a case study by Cory Fleming, senior technical specialist, ICMA, with assistance by ICMA Strategic Partner Esri. Download this FREE case study to learn more about Carver County’s GIS system.