Panel Explores Many Uses of GIS at MACo Summer Conference

A panel of geographic information system (GIS) experts discussed how GIS mapping systems can be used to address a wide range of policy issues beyond the traditional planning and zoning uses of the tool at the 2014 MACo Summer Conference.

Marshall Stevenson III, the Geospatial Innovations Senior Program Manager for Whitney, Bailey, Cox & Magnani, LLC, noted that GIS can be used for practically any county function, from budgetary decisions to service delivery.  He focused on GIS data sharing partnerships between the State and the counties, such as providing universal address points for public safety and 9-1-1 calls.  He also discussed the “One Maryland One Centerline” program, which when completed will allow the sharing of road geometry and asset data between the state, counties, and municipalities (roadways, guard rails, signs, etc.).  The program can assist with the announcement of road closure events and road maintenance efforts.

Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Water/Wastewater Account Executive Santino DePaul discussed how GIS can be used for managing information possessed by retiring workforce and providing commonly needed information to the public, such as water contamination notices.  He also focused on how county officials and the public can access GIS data on computers, online, and on mobile devices.  GIS can assist in water utility mapping and billing.  He stressed that GIS can be used to proactively address potential problems before they materialize.

Maryland StateStat Director Matt Power described how the State uses GIS data to manage programs and service delivery through its StateStat initiative.  StateStat is for a variety used for everything from environmental programs such as cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay  (BayStat) to public safety efforts involving prisoner reentry.  GIS also helps StateStat track the implementation progress of various programs.  He noted StateStat’s Open Data Portal provides a large amount of useful information online, including GIS data.  He also discussed StateStat’s efforts to provide free Open Data posting space for municipalities and counties. Several examples of Open Data GIS information include: (1) the location of electric vehicle recharging stations; (2) the status of State Highway Administration projects, (3) tracking registered minority business enterprise (MBEs) contract bidding by location; (4) monthly school nutrition program participation; and (5) State capital budget expenditures.

Prince George’s County CountyStat Manager Ben Birge discussed how the CountyStat program focuses less on agency performance and more on issue performance (which can bring many different agencies together).  He discussed four areas where the Prince George’s County has used GIS data to make decisions: (1) improving outreach and marketing efforts for the County’s 311 and CountyClick public information programs; (2) tracking bulky trash removal requests; (3) tracking removal of “white goods” (large recyclable appliances); and (4) tracking fire response incidents to decide where to place a new fire department.  He stressed the need to have address data at a minimum in order to properly utilize GIS.

The presentations were followed by an audience discussion on how to better use GIS for various policy issues.  Maryland Delegate Addie Eckardt moderated the session.

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