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Why Local Governments Need Data Integration and Mapping

May 17, 2017
Cloud-Based Software, Data Visualization, Government
By: Vivian Nguyen

The value of local government data integration is hard to ignore these days.

Data analysis and map visualization have become an integral part of the government framework and key to substantive public outreach.  Government agencies, whether they are townships, cities, counties, state agencies, or special districts proactively search for meaningful ways to engage their community.  Public expectations have changed and increasingly people want the ability to have interactions with the government as easily as they interact with their bank.  Collaboration between agencies and the public is the norm, not the exception.

local government data integration

Why is Local Government Data Integration Important?

Data integration is imperative for opening lines of communication and generating two-way feedback between government entities, inter-departmental staff, and constituents.  GovClarity offers:

  • Customization. An extensible, customizable solution that works with any agency. This means you are in complete control of what is shared and how feedback is received.
  • Relevant Information and Usability. GovClarity provides intuitive and user-friendly access to data.  Not long ago data silos were an issue and government employees spent a lot of time and energy weeding out the useful information from the noise.  Likewise, the public found it difficult, if not impossible, to find the information they seek.
  • Improved Productivity. If the public cannot locate data quickly and easily, they call the government agency with their questions, which leads to loss of productivity by government employees.  Oftentimes, one employee would be the expert at accessing the data and finds themselves answering the same questions from multiple constituents.  A source of frustration for everyone.

Mapping – Streamlined for All

Beyond local government data integration, the goal is to travel beyond simply mapping data and allow people to find the information they need or want as quickly and easily as possible. A potential home buyer can look up property tax, school district, and floodplain information when it is convenient for them, even if it is midnight. A question asked during a budget meeting regarding the number of sign permits issued last year can be answered immediately with direct access to GovClarity.

Connecting Government Departments and Citizens

GovClarity provides a viable pathway that connects local government information and services with its citizens.  Many local governments have a dedicated hotline used by citizens to report a variety of issues such as; noise complaints, burned out street lights, potholes, or a sidewalk repair.  Using CommunityView, citizens can report these types of issues into one system. Agency staff can now streamline processes, improve response time, and integrate data for everyone to see.  The benefit is having one system, easily accessible by all individual government departments and the public that meets today’s expectations.

Connecting Government Field Staff Data

Field personnel can access and update critical data while doing their jobs from their tablets or smartphones instead of waiting until they return to the office.  Whether are online or offline, their work can continue and data will synchronize automatically.  Field staff members are productive and office teams have visibility into project progress.

Connecting Local Government, State Agencies, and the Public

A regional planning agency (MPO) is updating their long-range planning documents and needs to collaborate with multiple local governments, state agencies, and the public.  Traditionally, this has been a labor-intensive exercise with numerous public meetings, stakeholder meetings, and internal meetings within each agency involved.  Integrating data into a single source means agencies can feed their relevant information as well as view all the data in context.  They can see where public concerns overlap, such as the lack of pedestrian access, potholes, or flooding.  The regional priorities can be mapped and display the areas of greatest need.  It provides an intuitive path that feeds into and responds to the long-range planning process.

What Do You Need to Consider Before Implementing a Data Integration and Mapping Platform?

Now that we have established the need and potential use for local government data integration, let’s talk about some concerns or key points to look for when developing or choosing a data integration and mapping platform.

  • Security. The platform used should follow established security protocols.
  • Data Integrity. The platform should also be permission-based, meaning that explicit permission is given only to those individuals allowed to update the data.  This provides accountability and oversight that data incorporated remains credible.  It is also imperative to establish what information is provided for internal consumption, external use, or both.
  • Maintenance. Previously each agency or department was required to have dedicated servers to contain their data and run the platform.  This allowed for a greater likelihood of platform interruption if one of the servers went down.  It also had a budgetary impact for the additional staff and equipment required to keep the platform running, during a time when every penny is counted and stretched as far as it could go.  GovClarity assumes the infrastructure responsibilities so that your agency can focus on what it does best.
  • Customizable. To provide real value to both an agency and the public, the platform must integrate with existing systems and be compatible with multiple data formats including tabular data, FGDB or Shapefiles, and geodatabase files.
  • Scalable. Needs and expectations grow and change over time.  As such, you need a platform that can handle grow with your agency and meet your additional needs as they arise.

GovClarity provides a solid foundation for local government data integration, MPOs, and state agencies to meaningfully engage their constituents.  It saves time and money, it encourages inter-departmental, inter-agency, external collaboration.

Click here to find out how GovClarity helps government offices effectively engage citizens and get immediate access to data they need.

Author Bio

Government Specialist Karen Figgins

Karen Figgins is the Government Solutions Product Manager.  She is passionate about government technology and citizen engagement.  Connect with Karen @figgk and on LinkedIn

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