, ,

Understanding the Potential of Big Data and GIS

In the private sector, big data has been used to improve customer engagements, gain efficiencies in processing requests, streamline internal processes and even as a means to have information tailored to suit a customer’s specific needs. Although the way we measure success is different between the private and public sector, the general theme is the same – big data holds great promise for organizations (public or private) to meet consumer demands in a more reactive and responsive way. Just like in the private sector, that is the promise of big data for government- helping to create a proactive and responsive government.


  • Big data and GIS is powerful solution for government to visual complex and multivariate data
  • Big data and Esri Case Study from Glendale, California
  • Government will become more proactive and responsive through big data analysis

In our recent GovLoop report: Transforming Your Agency with Big Data and a brief industry perspective, GovLoop highlights numerous government leaders and early adopters of big data. In addition to these resources, one essential component of big data analysis to highlight is the power of GIS technology to visualize complex and multivariate data. Leveraging GIS and big data analysis is a powerful tool to reveal patterns and trends that would previously remain unknown.

GIS and big data have many different kinds of applications; whether it be leveraging data to expedite disaster relief, monitor financial transactions, visualizing insurance claims or identify retail trends, GIS has the power to map the data and show relationships in new ways.

The City of Glendale is a great example of big data and GIS applications. Glendale, located in Los Angeles County, California, needed a new way to track street signs. The city maintains nearly 28,000 street signs, and to keep up with maintenance and replace old signs, Glendale needed a way to track signs throughout the city.

David Lew, the parking and traffic supervisor at the City of Glendale stated, “Each street sign costs at least $150. If we need to replace them and end up miscounting by a couple thousand signs, we could be in a pretty big financial hole.” In a time of tight budgets, knowing the costs and estimating replacement costs is an essential component to staying on budget.

For decades, the city tracked and monitored street signs manually. As time progressed, this process was no longer sustainable for Glendale. Ultimately, to help manage sign tracking, Glendale partnered with 3M’s Sign Management System. The Esri case study states:

“The city found itself implementing 3M’s Sign Management System, a turnkey solution that inventories signs, assesses retroreflectivity, and provides a service life prediction. At the core of 3M’s Sign Management System is an ArcGIS technology platform developed to help organize and maintain the inventory and synchronize sign information more easily for office and field-workers.”

With the ArcGIS and 3M solution, Glendale staff can now accurately assess and manage street signs across the city. The case study shows the power of GIS and big data, some of the functionality now that the city holds is:

  • Efficiently budget and plan for sign replacement
  • Complete inventory of signs, which is easily updated by trained staff
  • A unique system that uses predictive modeling for sign management. This system assesses the sign type and installation data to estimate when maintenance or replacement will be needed.
  • Signs can be queried to search for signs that may fall below federal minimum standards.
  • Work orders can be created by crewmembers in the field, submitted through their mobile devices
  • Using mobile devices and GPS, as field workers approach the sign, they can confirm that work is being conducted on the correct sign and sync back with the office.

This case study is an excellent case study on how GIS, big data and mobile all can interconnected to work on projects that are meaningful to communities and mission driven.

More GIS Resources

Want More GovLoop Content? Sign Up For Email Updates

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.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply