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Creating a Stronger Democracy: GIS on Capitol Hill

One area that is growing for GIS applications is with Congress. GIS has the power to visualize complex data, helping decision makers fully understand an issue to make improved decisions. The ability to map authoritative data allows policy makers to have an improved discourse on legislative issues, and understand the impact that policy decisions may have. That’s why GovLoop and Esri are proud to release our latest infographic, which can be found below. (Be sure to click the photos to learn more about each case study.) Click here to launch the infographic, or click here to download a hi-res version.

Creating a Stronger Democracy: GIS on Capitol HIll

GIS for Congress was especially on display at the Esri Federal GIS Conference, as Josh Johnson, Vice President, Washington Operations, Logistics Specialties, Inc and Cathy Cahill, Legislative Fellow, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources spoke during the plenary session.

Esri’s Federal GIS Conference shows how GIS has transformed executive level agencies. As we have seen, GIS is also being used in more than just executive agencies. The legislative branch has also caught on to the power of GIS. Tim Petty, Deputy Legislative Director for Senator James Risch (R - Idaho), recently spoke at an Esri and GovLoop meet up, he said, “So many of us are working with the analysis of data, but the ultimate goal is to get the data into the hands of the decision makers,” said Petty.

How a Map Informs Policy

GIS for Congress was also on display at the Esri Federal GIS Conference, as Josh Johnson, Vice President, Washington Operations, Logistics Specialties, Inc and Cathy Cahill, Legislative Fellow, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources spoke during the plenary session.

Josh Johnson presented during the Plenary, drawing on his extensive years of service working for Congress. “Informed decision making is impossible without access to maps,” said Johnson. He also provided insights into the kind of data that will be useful to legislators. Johnson cautioned that raw data is not useful for legislators, neither is a PDF, PowerPoint or a paper map.

“Geography, maps and spatial analysis helps us show us the way forward,” said Johnson, he continued, “Congress needs your authoritative and curated dated in an updated an accessible format,” said Johnson.

Cahill challenged the audience not to think like a GIS professional, but as a Senator when looking at a map, and how that will impact policy decisions. Cahill used her home state of Alaska as a case study, showing the power of GIS to use layers and make proper decisions around investments. “What I want to do is pull as much data from you, the GIS professionals, and mash them up to see some possibilities,” said Cahill. Cahill said she needs, “curated, authoritative and timely data in order to make legislative decisions.” The presentations highlighted where legislators find value from GIS professionals:

  1. Build from GIS professional work and combine it to see possibilities
  2. Want to share as web services and web maps that can integrate and combine to show a full picture
  3. Want authoritative data resources to keep data resources fresh and current
  4. Use tools to integrate across government improve policy decisions

There are very few technologies that enable organizations to understand their data like GIS. GIS allows organizations to manage the complex data they are now managing, storing and collecting. Whether it is from real-time tracking for logistics, or analyzing disease and distributing resources, GIS is transforming the way we make decisions.

Infographic Resources:

  1. http://www.senate.gov/reference/office/sergeant_at_arms.htm
  2. http://www.risch.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/idaho-map-gallery
  3. http://tmblr.co/ZKNLPtsAtAZ0
  4. http://www.brown.senate.gov/rxtakeback
  5. http://senate.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicGallery/index.html?appid=31543ab635b84350b5482b5282fc5d83&group=37bc8629feea4d398694190268b94eb4
  6. http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/about/crs12_annrpt.pdf
  7. http://www.wyden.senate.gov/chroniccare
  8. http://senate.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicGallery/index.html?appid=c274fc8ca8f54c8ab47574b84db4a9cb&group=f2b27f7099ff473983cb12d93382f137
  9. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/briefing/sergeant_at_arms.htm
  10. http://www.loc.gov/crsinfo/about/

Additional GIS Coverage:

 

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. Be sure to check out all the
 GIS resources produced by Esri and GovLoop.