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Map It

City upgrades GIS infrastructure to improve public access to information

Post Date:09/05/2019 2:00 pm

Online map showing property parcelThis summer, the city upgraded its geographic information system (GIS) infrastructure to give the city expanded mapping capabilities and provide residents more access to public data.

The ESRI software upgrade highlights a growing way local governments are using mapping systems to store information about a specific geographic place or point. It allows staff to enter information about a location—a tree, fire hydrant, park, street utility—and later recall that data via a digital map. 

"It's an easier way to get answers to questions in a visual format," GIS Coordinator Ryan Bormann said. "Now, you can find more information in just a couple clicks."

Improved access will allow city leaders to make better decisions. For example, engineers can quickly access information to determine when the last time a specific street was reconstructed, or the fire chief can analyze how many residents are within a specified distance of a potential new fire station. 

Another benefit of mapping systems is staff can input data out in the field. Using GPS coordinates, employees can store data about a location, such as a tree or elevation point. This summer, Engineering interns have been using the data to measure water levels at Quarry Lake Park.

Two people marking GPS coordinatesThe infrastructure upgrade expanded the number of city licenses so more staff can update data and access the software.

Residents will notice the upgrade through additional map data and maps. The city already has a variety of maps available,  including current development, its five-year capital improvement plan and precinct locations. The expansion will allow the city to build more map types to increase community engagement and transparency. For example, the city is considering building a new Night to Unite registration map in 2020 so block parties are mapped as they are registered. A new interactive parks and trails map is also expected to launch in the coming weeks.

"These improvements are going to make our work here more efficient and effective and improve our overall customer service," Bormann said. "Residents used to have to come down to city hall for everything, but now, using the web applications we're putting online, they can answer questions from the comfort of home."

Visit the city website at www.ShakopeeMN.gov/maps to see a variety of maps and information available about the city.

This story originally appeared in the Fall 2019 Hometown Messenger.

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