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Blogs / ICMA | blog / 5 Ways GIS Technology Helps Build Resiliency in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

5 Ways GIS Technology Helps Build Resiliency in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

“We’re in an area that’s susceptible to tropical storms and sea level rise. From a geography standpoint, understanding this susceptibility and promoting resiliency is one of our main objectives.”—Fort Lauderdale, Florida, City Manager Lee Feldman

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a city susceptible to man-made and natural events, but with leadership from Feldman, Chief Technology Officer Mike Maier, and GIS Manager Ian Wint, the city is able to use GIS (geographic information system) technology to explore past disasters, react to ongoing events, and make predictions about the future. 

Ensuring that the city’s infrastructure and beaches are resilient is particularly important given the impact of tourism on Fort Lauderdale’s economy. Concern about resiliency has driven innovative advancements in the city’s use of GIS technology to analyze and respond to issues. In Esri Smart Communities Case Studies Series, the Fort Lauderdale case study identified five ways the city was able to promote resiliency with GIS technology:


GIS is a key component of the city’s customer service system.  During a disaster, this system can help increase resiliency by offloading the nonemergency calls from citizens and gathering geographic information that the local government uses to deal with nonemergency situations.


The Stormwater Master Plan Project looks to improve stormwater resiliency by establishing benchmarks and regular reporting. The GIS data collection software on iPads enables inspectors to catalog, inspect, and manage the stormwater system more efficiently. While still in the field, inspectors are able to enter data on their inspection zones and determine if the system is operable or requires repairs. This saves employees time and allows them to focus on solving other issues.


As a way to save their citizens money on flood insurance premiums, Fort Lauderdale participates in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. The city is able to do this by gathering and analyzing GIS data in flood-zone areas.  It can then apply to FEMA to lower its “Community Rating” score and thereby receive a lower premium price. The rating Fort Lauderdale received since joining the program has saved citizens millions of dollars.


Fort Lauderdale also has used the GIS system to make improvements to the evacuation routes.  The data allows the city to highlight the best routes to take in the case of flooding, and also provides emergency crews a better understanding of where they should concentrate their response efforts.


Coastal erosion is a big issue for the city in part because of its dependence on tourism. City staff use GIS data and annual aerial photographs to track erosion and develop measures to safeguard the city’s beachfront.


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 Fort Lauderdale’s GIS system.