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Identifying the Promise of GIS for Government: Citizen Engagement

Post Highlights

  • GovLoop releases new report: Identifying the Promise of GIS for Government
  • Citizen Engagement has been transformed by GIS technology
  • Post identifies six steps in the citizen engagement loop
  • Highlights case study for citizen engagement using GIS technology

The GovLoop report, Identifying the Promise of GIS for Government, focuses on best practices, case studies and identifies innovative uses of geographic information system (GIS) technology in government. Across government GIS technology has fueled innovation. Often implemented in tandem with other initiatives, GIS is a critical component to help government solve some of its most pressing challenges.

In our report, Identifying the Promise of GIS for Government, GovLoop conducted a survey from our community identifying lessons learned and best practices for GIS initiatives. You can review the complete findings of the survey by viewing the guide below.

Last week, Pat highlighted the lessons learned from Emergency Management and GIS initiatives. This week, I’ll be delving into the use of GIS for promoting citizen engagement, covering the six steps in the citizen engagement loop, as well as highlighting a case study from the report. For a more in depth look at using GIS for citizen engagement and additional case, check out the complete report.

Download PDF Here or View Online Below

GIS has opened a new door to facilitate citizen engagement in government. To fully take advantage of this advancement, six clear steps are presented for promoting citizen engagement within an agency. Each step represents a path toward furthering citizen understanding and engagement.

Step 1: Begin with Authoritative, High Value Data

Step 2: Push Data to Citizens

Step 3: Allow Citizen Analysis

Step 4: Create a Citizen Feedback Loop

Step 5: Update Authoritative Data

Step 6: Increase Operational Awareness

The first three steps focus on opening up data to citizens, but the fourth step is crucial to promoting citizen engagement. Beyond providing access to data and allowing citizen analysis, the advancement of mobile technology has allowed citizens to meaningfully participate in the collection of data. The innovation of crowd- sourcing applications, which solicit citizen input, have both increased citizen engagement and have led to realized cost savings for local governments.

The ability to map data collected from social media sites also gives government the ability to solicit citizen input from where they’re naturally going online. Through web and mobile apps, citizens can report many different types of information, including easement violations. Using geocoding data, mapping these data points allows agencies to visualize and make sense of the data and respond to issues. Government adoption of applications that create a citizen feedback loop have legitimized and promoted their use. Citizen participation in data collection has become more prevalent in many cities across the country as a result.

In Focus: Montgomery County, Maryland

In Montgomery County, Maryland, forest conservation easements – legal agreements that limit activities to protect forests – protect almost 10 percent of the county’s forests. These easements were previously monitored using individual paper maps; communicating information and monitoring the condition of easements was almost impossible for the county.

After building a geo-database that included the locations of easements, individual requirements, and the condition of each land parcel, they were able to better analyze and manage the forests, as well as provide public access to the information for the first time. Additionally, they created a feedback loop for citizens to report easement violations.

Seeing the success of this program, other departments have created similar programs to further their missions. Applications for tracking park encroachment and an interactive map for historic preservation are just two examples of how this success was translated into new opportunities for citizen engagement.

Fore more GIS examples that promote citizen engagement, as well as some interesting blogs and videos GIS related, check out the full analysis in our GovLoop Guide.

When Esri was founded in 1969, it realized even then that geographic information system (GIS) technology could make a difference in society. GIS helps people to solve problems at local, regional, national, and global scales. Access maps and apps at ArcGIS.com. Check out the Communications & Citizen Engagement Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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