How can Councils be more effective and efficient with their GIS?

Pat Gethin, the Business Development Manager in Western Australia, discusses how local governments are getting greater value from their GIS…

Local Government plays an often underappreciated role across Australian society, effectively keeping the lights on and delivering many facilities and functions that we take for granted in our communities. Because of this there is an increasing emphasis on being more effective and efficient with resources such as IT systems.

GIS is one of those IT systems that has a lot of potential to offer greater value. To realise this councils need to see GIS as more than just a desktop mapping application. A Council’s business is all about location (assets, services etc), so the most effective way to utilise GIS is to understand what your spatial problems and opportunities are and determine their impact and cost to the business. From this standpoint, you can look to see how best to deploy enterprise level GIS to solve these questions.

From my experience, an example where many Council’s can use GIS to be more efficient is in regards to the many paper-based processes around approvals and asset management where spatial information is collected, assessed, acted on and reported on. GIS is now at a point where these can be streamlined in a GIS environment so data can be easily collected, viewed, analysed and disseminated. Property enquiry reports, which can take weeks for each section to provide relevant information, can be done in minutes when spatial information is linked across the organisation and can all be accessed using spatial queries.

To drive value, Esri Australia offers an Enterprise Licence Agreement (ELA) which provides unlimited access to most of the Esri product range to make it easier for you to take advantage of all the spatial technology you need. So once you have a clear understanding of the key benefits GIS may provide to your LG you can easily weigh that up with a known cost (the ELA) and if this is positive you are in a strong position to start looking at how you can budget for it.

While an ELA will give certainty around budgetary needs, another benefit is that it provides incredible flexibility to all departments. With an ELA, these departments don’t have to wait until the next budget cycle to get the GIS software they need because it hasn’t been budgeted for. As an example, if the asset management team want to hire subcontractors to help collect asset condition information on mobile devices they can access additional mobile licences to meet their requirement. For the IT guys concerned with the web mapping application slowing down because it is getting too many hits they can easily deploy another ArcGIS server licence on another server as they set up a load balancing solution.   

If you would like any more info or have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me

– Pat G.

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