Mobility and GIS: Transforming State and Local Government

This blog post is an excerpt from our recent industry perspective, Building a Mobile Strategy with GIS. Read the full piece here.

Mobile strategies have come a long way since the first Nokia and mobile GPS systems. Early mobile strategies largely focused solely on field data collection, allowing government employees who were previously going out into the field to collect data with a paper survey and clipboard to start utilizing GPS capabilities and electronic data collection on mobile devices.

But as the mobile revolution moves forward, new mobile strategies need to go further. They must have an impact on the entire workflow of organizations rather than just data collection. This means changing the workflow and using mobile to collect data that can be instantly fed back to a dashboard collected in one organization, allowing organizations to make real-time, data-driven decisions. Along with mobile approaches and technology, GIS technology – software designed to capture, manage, analyze and display all forms of geographically referenced information – has also grown and is in wide adoption by many state and local governments today. While mobile and GIS technology have evolved, however, they remain independent of each other in many state and local governments. Combining the two technologies can fundamentally shift the way cities, counties and states enable access to information.

By enabling immediate insights into data and incorporating a mobile strategy into the workflow, jurisdictions can deliver services to citizens faster and more efficiently. “Simply doing business on your phone or your device isn’t a strategy per se,” said Keith Mann, State and Local Government Marketing Lead at Esri. “To be effective, your mobile government strategy requires a simple, integrated approach that ensures data continuity, quality, and the ability to easily share that information with other departments.”

Today’s mobile government is looking to incorporate field data collection that can quickly update back-office systems and databases. Applications such as executive dashboards provide insight that moves agencies from static data collection to a more responsive position. Once analyzed, this data can be communicated with other agencies and the public in the full spirit of transparency and accountability. Location-based technologies can then enable documentation, processing and management of government issues in real time, taking advantage of the entire mobile workflow. Mobile data collection apps allow government to collect and process data out in the field, in the office or in any other location – a truly powerful ability that allows government to reach communities where they are. Both online or offline, government workforces can access maps and collect and view real-time information.

Paired with GIS software, they can bring data straight from the field into a geodatabase in a seamless workflow – and also take GIS data back into the field via a mobile device or laptop computer. Incorporating a mobile strategy with GIS into the entire workflow allows governments to be more holistic in their capabilities and approaches.

Mobile field-to-back-office communications allows collected data to be fed into a management system or executive dashboard. This emphasis on mobile data will support real-time decisionmaking, which allows processes to move at a faster pace and meet the growing expectations the public has of the government.

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