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How Fairfax County Opened Up Its GIS Data

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As we prepare for GovLoop’s first-ever State and Local Innovators Virtual Summit, we and the presenters are posting blogs about many of the sessions and some of the tips they will share. The summit is October 22nd and free for everyone — make sure to register here!  

State and local governments collect and store a lot of data. Due to recent mandates, much of this information they want to make publicly available and easy to access. But searching through millions of documents — most likely in disparate databases — to find the relevant information is like finding a needle in a haystack: time consuming and inefficient. Luckily, there’s a solution to this common problem: analytics.

One specific example of this comes from the Fairfax County Department of Information Technology (DIT).  The DIT’s goal is to provide the community with convenient access to appropriate information and services through technology, particularly mapping data from the county’s geographic information system (GIS). Recently, DIT wanted to upgrade their existing police application.  This application allowed the public to search, filter and map police service calls by type, location, and date and access preliminary police investigation data from Fairfax County’s 9-1-1 call center. However, with more than a half-million data points from all over the county, the data overwhelmed the existing system. Plus, it was hard to organize and therefore, not very beneficial to county staff or the public. Other challenges included: legacy data that was complex, slow search functionality, and GIS-data inaccessibility (only some staff had access to certain information).

So what did they do? They implemented MarkLogic’s Enterprise NoSQL database platform to develop a repository for land use data that makes it easier for county employees, land developers and residents to access real-time information about zoning changes, county land ordinances and property history. With the new platform, they now has the ability to answer complex queries using its public-facing GIS data, making it easily accessible to both county employees and county residents.

Fairfax County’s example will be featured in the online training, “Simplifying Your Search: How Government is Opening Up Data Through GIS.” In this online training, you’ll hear how Fairfax County created a new, easy-to-use GIS search engine. Specifically, we’ll share:

  • How Fairfax County opened up their GIS data and made it accessible to county staff and the public.
  • How Fairfax County’s new GIS search engine increased staff productivity and delivered better services to the community.
  • Best practices on integrating new technology with enterprise IT systems and how your organization can do the same.

Opening up your data to constituents is important. But it’s even more important that the data is easy to access and search. Join the training to learn how you can do this.

“Simplifying Your Search: How Government is Opening Up Data Through GIS”  is part of GovLoop’s State and Local Innovators Virtual Summit, an all-day, virtual event with 6 different online trainings, networking opportunities and resources to help you do your job better. It takes place on October 22nd. You can see the schedule and register here for free. You can earn up to 6 CPEs by attending, so be sure to register! 

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