Doing more with maps and data
If geography is at the heart of local government; location-based data is a council’s lifeblood.
After all, whether it’s responding to a resident’s requests for graffiti removal, managing risk in relation to an uneven footpath, or knowing when an arborist needs to trim a tree branch – it is vital for councils to have access to accurate location-based data.
For many councils, data collection has traditionally been managed in-house; but increasingly, local governments are looking to outside sources to enhance their existing information reservoirs.
For example, authoritative foundation maps are improving internal efficiencies – by eliminating the need for GIS managers to spend copious amounts of hours creating base maps from scratch.
In turn, smart geodemographic data sets are providing planners with a more detailed level of insight into the unique needs of their communities, and cutting-edge 3D imagery means councils can now transform their existing 2D data into highly realistic virtual worlds.
Drawing on these state-of-the-art data sources, Australia’s councils are doing more with GIS technology than anyone thought possible.
For instance, the multi-dimensional insight to be gained when councils use GIS technology to mash up their own data with these other information sources – such as property, natural hazard risk or crowdsourced data sets – is leading to real-time responses to resident concerns, improved community services, and internal workflow efficiencies.
We are now seeing groups such as Adelaide and Gold Coast City Councils release location-aware smartphone apps that enable rate payers to provide geo-tagged feedback – directly to their council’s customer service centres.
Establishing this kind of ‘360 degree’ feedback channel is resonating with councils nationwide – with more than half the respondents in the Benchmark Study indicating it’s likely they’ll deploy these capabilities over the next two years.
In addition to the very real customer service improvements GIS technology delivers to rate payers, rapid advancements in data collection methods are facilitating noteworthy benefits for field force enablement.
Instead of returning to the office to complete paperwork, staff now have the mobile tools they require to collect and log information in real-time, creating further cost and time efficiencies.
In some cases, traditional field force activities are even being superseded. With 3D data collection tools now a reality, entire cities can be recorded in a startling level of detail.
This means rather than physically sending a crew to do an asset check or site inspection, users can conduct a virtual ‘fly through’ of a property, pan up and down the street to examine assets, and understand how a proposed home extension or property development may impact the residential streetscape – all without leaving the office.
As you can imagine, as well as increasing workforce efficiencies this also leads to greater levels of occupational health and safety.
In short, the applications of GIS technology and location-based data are limited only by what the mind can conceive. And when it comes to creative applications of GIS, Australia’s councils are really pushing the envelope.