Ben Miller at GovTech: “As government data collection expands, and as more of that data becomes publicly available, more people are looking to maps as a means of expressing the information.
And depending on the type of application, a map can be useful for both the government and its constituents. Many maps help government servants operate more efficiently and savemoney, while others will answer residents’ questions so they don’t have to call a government worker for theanswer…..
Here are seven examples of state and local governments using maps to help themselves and the people they serve.
1. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, IOWA GET LOCAL AND CURRENT WITH THE WEATHER
As Winter Storm Jonas was busy dropping nearly 30 inches of snow on the nation’s capital, officials in D.C. were working to clear it. And thanks to a mapping application they launched, citizens could see exactly how the city was going about that business.
The District of Columbia’s snow map lets users enter an address, and then shows what snow plows did near that address within a given range of days. The map also shows where the city received 311 requests for snow removal and gives users a chance to look at recent photos from road cameras showing driving conditions…..
2. LOS ANGELES MAPS EL NIÑO RESOURCES, TRENDS
Throughout the winter, weather monitoring experts warned the public time and again that an El Niño system was brewing in the Pacific Ocean that looked to be one of the largest, if not the largest, ever. That would mean torrents of rain for a parched state that’s seen mudslides and flooding during storms in the past.
So to prepare its residents, the city of Los Angeles published a map in January that lets users see both decision-informing trends and the location of resources. Using the application, one can toggle layers that let them know what the weather is doing around the city, where traffic is backed up, where the power is out, where they can find sand bags to prevent flood damage and more….
3. CALIFORNIA DIVES DEEP INTO AIR POLLUTION RISKS
….So, faced with a legislative mandate to identify disadvantaged communities, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment decided that it wouldn’t just examine smog levels — it also would also take a look at the prevalence of at-risk people across the state.
The result is a series of three maps, the first two examining both factors and the third combining them. That allows the state and its residents to see the places where air pollution is the biggest problem for people it poses a greater risk to….
4. STREAMLINING RESIDENT SERVICE INFORMATION
The city of Manassas, Va., relied on an outdated paper map and a long-time, well-versed staffer to answer questions about municipal curbside pickup services until they launched this map in 2014. The map allows users to enter their address, and then gives them easy-to-read information about when to put out various things on their curb for pickup.
That’s useful because the city’s fall leaf collection schedule changes every year. So the map not only acts as a benefit to residents who want information, but to city staff who don’t have to deal with as many calls.
The map also shows users the locations of resources they can use and gives them city phone numbers in case they still have questions, and displays it all in a popup pane at the bottom of the map.
5. PLACING TOOLS IN THE HANDS OF THE PUBLIC
But Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia stand out as examples of maps that take the idea one step further — because each one offers a staggering amount of choices for users.
Chicago’s new OpenGrid map, just launched in January, is a versatile map that lets users search for certain data like food inspection reports, street closures, potholes and more. That’s enough to answer a lot of questions, but what adds even more utility is the map’s various narrowing tools. Users can narrow searches to a zip code, or they can draw a shape on the map and only see results within that shape. They can perform sub-searches within results and they can choose how they’d like to see the data displayed.
Philadelphia’s platform makes use of buttons, icons and categories to help users sift through the spatially-enabled data available to them. Options include future lane closures, bicycle paths, flu shots, city resources, parks and more.
Boston’s platform is open for users to submit their own maps. And submit they have. The city portal offers everything from maps of bus stops to traffic data pulled from the Waze app.
6. HOUSTON TRANSFORMS SERVICE REQUEST DATA
A 311 service functions as a means of bringing problems to city staff’s attention. But the data itself only goes so far — it needs interpretation.
Houston’s 311 service request map helps users easily analyze the data so as to spot trends. The tool offers lots of ways to narrow data down, and can isolate many different kinds of request so users can see whether one problem is reported more often in certain areas.
7. GUIDING BUSINESS GROWTH
For the last several years, the city of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has been designing all sorts of maps through its Rancho Enterprise Geographic Information Systems (REGIS) project. Many of them have served specific city purposes, such as tracking code enforcement violations and offering police a command system tool for special events.
The utilitarian foundation of REGIS extends to its public-facing applications as well. One example is INsideRancho, a map built with economic development efforts in mind. The map lets users search and browse available buildings to suit business needs, narrowing results by square footage, zoning and building type. Users can also find businesses by name or address, and look at property exteriors via an embedded connection with Google Street View….(More)”