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Real-Time GIS Makes Government Services Better, Faster, Stronger

Government is always seeking to improve the services that they provide, whether that means responding faster, cutting costs or providing more quality service. With the help of real-time GIS, each of those and more becomes possible.

By revealing deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations, GIS allows for smarter decision-making across the board – and government seems to be catching on.

“Today, more and more state and local governments are using real-time GIS to make better decisions in the moment,” Keith Mann, State and Local Government Industry Manager, Esri, said during Thursday’s GovLoop online training. But what about GIS is so enticing? According to Mann, plenty.

“Real-time GIS provides an awareness of your live operations,” said Mann. “[It] helps you filter out the noise in the data and provides a clear picture of what’s going on so that you can focus on what’s important to you.”

Mann and his co-presenter, Deilson Da Silva, Sales Enablement Engineer, Esri, provided almost a dozen examples and demonstrations of the ways local government across the country has successfully implemented real-time GIS in the services they provide, from crime reporting in Seattle, Washington to snow management in Madison County, Kentucky, and everything in-between. The goal is to put data into the hands of employees as quickly as possible so that they can act on it immediately.

“Information is automatically collected or consumed from one or many sources,” Mann said. “With this method, state and local governments can filter data feeds. All of this happens in real time, all at once, in a split second. People are pretty good at making decisions in the moment when the information provided is shown in an easy-to-understand way.”

In one demonstration led by Da Silva, real-time GIS identified a maintenance request (complete with a description and image), located an available maintenance worker nearby, transferred the request to that worker and guided him to the location using GPS, all within a minute. When he fixed the problem, the worker sent details and a photo back to the GIS operator, completing the job. The timeliness and ease-of-use were clear.

A second case study from San Antonio, Texas demonstrated the use of real-time GIS to improve law-enforcement response time earlier this year. With multiple events occurring in the area drawing hundreds of thousands of guests, law enforcement was stretched. To improve security, they used real-time GIS to link officers to incidents for faster response and situational awareness to keep the city safe.

“It’s about people using GIS on smart devices to coordinate faster response, saving time and money,” Mann said.

Da Silva and Mann listed flexible deployment, cost savings, fewer service complaints, faster response times and improved operation awareness as the main benefits of introducing real-time GIS.

Mann also emphasized that GIS isn’t only available to bigger governments; small governments looking to improve their services have that opportunity as well.

“This is available to [state and local governments], too,” he said. “They don’t need to be a big organization or one with a huge budget to use this technology.”

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