Leveraging GIS For City Services

The city of brotherly love is pairing spatial and tabular data in an effort to inform decision-making and improve public services


Henry “Hank” Garie, Philadelphia’s chief data officer (CDO) and geographical information officer (GIO), has a goal for the city: to add geospatial attributes to Philadelphia’s tabular data and make it more useful.

“It’s that firm foundation on the spatial side that I want to leverage to go after more of that programmatic or tabular data,” Garie told StateScoop in May.

Garie became GIO in February, then in May also assumed the role of CDO after Philadelphia’s former CDO, Tim Wisniewski, stepped down. Garie is now on a mission to maximize the city’s the use of GIS by creating standards for data integration.

The city of Philadelphia currently feeds the majority of its spatial data through DataBridge, a warehouse for data cleansing and organization. Philadelphia began to integrate spatial and tabular data throughout the past year.

The city is also developing standards to make spatial data available internally and publicly. These standards are meant to provide a technical framework for the integration of spatial data, ensuring access and understanding,

Municipal agencies have begun to use the integrated data to create new, GIS-forward citizen service applications. These were on display during Philly Tech Week at GeoJawn 2019, where city offices shared GIS-driven applications they have developed in the past year.

The Office of Innovation & Technology developed the Philly Vehicle Locator (PVL), an algorithm that processes the location information of more than 400 city vehicles in real-time to determine movements and routes. The Philadelphia Streets Department developed StreetSmart PHL, a portal for viewing information about Streets Department activities and its most prominent and visible core services. The Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet developed a map-based survey of litter conditions on city streets as well as at parks and recreation sites, public schools, green storm water infrastructure, river ways, and vacant lots. The application, called Litter Index, uses cloud-based surveys taken on tablets and GPS coordinates to ensure accuracy.

“Our goal is to guide the establishment of standards for improved data integration and enhance the collaborative environment for data sharing and problem-solving,” Garie told StateScoop. “By doing so, we can leverage both GIS and open data to help Philadelphia reach new heights as a data-driven city.”

Posted in: got geoint?   Tagged in: Applications, Civil, GIS

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