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What is GIS?

Updated: 10/20/2017

A geographic information system (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present all types of geographical data. Organizations of all sizes and in almost every industry benefit from a GIS. Shakopee uses GIS in all its city departments on a day-to-day basis. A few benefits experienced from its use include:

Shakopee Maps Screenshot

  1. Improves efficiency resulting in cost savings.The city uses GIS to answer a variety of different questions, like what is the age of certain road or how many miles of sanitary sewer main does Shakopee maintain? Roads, sanitary and storm sewer, signs, parks, trees, trails and sidewalks are just a few of the many assets maintained within GIS systems. Maintaining these assets using a GIS system ensures that these assets are receiving regular maintenance that ultimately benefits all citizens by maximizing the life of the asset. 
  2. Enhanced decision making. Shakopee uses GIS to make smarter decisions. It's a tool to help determine the best location for a new fire station or whether an increase in staffing levels to maintain its current infrastructure is necessary. 
  3. Improved communication. GIS-based maps and visualizations greatly assist in understanding situations. Maps can quickly tell a story about what is happening. Through maps, Shakopee improves communication between different teams, departments, disciplines, professional fields, organizations and the public. 
  4. Better recordkeeping. One of the primary responsibilities of GIS is to maintain records about the status and change of geographical information. Cultural geography examples include zoning, population census, land ownership and administrative boundaries. Physical geography examples include tree inventories, environmental measurements, water flows and a whole host of geographic accounting. Shakopee’s GIS provides a strong framework for managing these types of systems with full transaction support and reporting tools.  
  5. Managing through geography. GIS is becoming essential to understand what is going on. Shakopee’s senior leaders use GIS information products to communicate. These products provide a visual framework for conceptualizing, understanding and prescribing action. Examples include briefings about various geographic patterns and relationships including land use, crime, the environment, and security situations.  

In general, the city relies on GIS data for much of what we do. Check out some of the city's GIS maps under City Maps.