2 min read

5 Ways GIS Helps Cities Make Smarter Decisions

By Jessie Kwak

Municipalities have no shortage of information to deal with on a daily basis. For many cities, that data is fragmented. Assessor data and Code Enforcement data may be stored on separate servers, with the same property’s information being updated independently from one department to another. Some crucial historical information may still be in hard copy form, whereas newer iterations are digitized.

From code violations to property sales and new business registrations, much of the information cities manage is associated with specific addresses. That makes Geographic Information Systems (GIS) an effective way to both organize this data, and visualize it to make better decisions.

GIS does more than just store data – it helps provides a clear view of patterns that are impossible to see otherwise. GIS allows cities to analyze trends and visualize the impact of historic changes and future plans. It gives cities the tools to identify needs and problem areas.

GIS makes the municipal decision-making process smarter, by putting the power of spatial analysis at your fingertips.

Use GIS to:

Drive economic growth

Stimulating economic growth is crucial for a city’s development. Internal GIS mapping can help municipalities identify areas of economic underdevelopment when planning infrastructure and services.

Public-facing GIS can give business owners the tools they need to understand neighborhood demographics and make smart decisions about their business when choosing a location and purchasing advertising. The Long Island Index is one such example, where you can visually search for things like retail vacancies, transit lines, rent vs own properties, and demographics.

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Plan infrastructure improvements

GIS can give cities a quick view of traffic and provide insight at a glance as to what traffic infrastructure improvements need to be done. Tools like Google real time traffic can help inform decisions about road improvement priorities. Mapping collision data can help pinpoint where safety measures need to be put in place. GIS can also help municipalities model traffic demand to plan for public transportation, as does the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

Make smart decisions about natural resources

For the United States Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), GIS has been crucial in developing a plan for strategic use of water resources. It has allowed the UNDESA to identify targets for low water use xeriscaping, as well as to calculate storm water runoff tax rates by estimating impervious surface areas.

GIS is also being used in conservation biology in fascinating ways, from modeling wildlife corridors to matching conservation areas to the actual distribution of species.

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Allocate funds according to need.

When California voters approved new funds for parks in underserved neighborhoods, the state worked with the Trust For Public Land to develop GIS models to help allocate the funds to the areas that needed it most. The GIS gave the California legislative staff the ability to easily visualize the effect on various communities by modeling different scenarios based on factors like poverty, existing facilities, and population density.

Build better cities

Philadelphia is hoping to draw in millennial families by creating a welcoming environment for children. City planners and local advocacy groups are using GIS to identify the play spaces most in need of investment, and prioritize them. GIS was used to perform a sustainability analysis considering neighborhood walkability, socioeconomic indicators, and existing open spaces to understand where the biggest need lies.

Ready to get a clearer picture of your city?

Contact GovPilot today to see how our user-friendly GIS lets you easily perform spatial analysis and make smarter decisions.


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Tags: GIS Map