AppGeo created MapGeo (AppGeo’s hosted local government mapping solution, first launched in 2011) to help city and county governments better use and share their geospatial and property data. Now in its second release, MapGeo is putting more data, tools and answers to questions into the hands of local government leaders, staff, businesses and citizens. Below we describe how MapGeo aligns with the expectations of today’s consumers of map-based information. Other related posts include a description of what’s new in MapGeo, and a look back on our motivation for creating MapGeo.
Beyond the Basics
Nearly everyone involved in government, both insiders and constituents, is sold on the need for accurate data, transparency and accountability. These same people are also sold on the value of maps in visualizing those data, sharing information and making decisions. But today’s challenges go beyond just creating and sharing maps. Municipal leaders and those who work for them demand quick access to a wide variety of data and new ways to view, measure and share project outcomes. Citizens are more savvy; they want quick answers to their questions and assurances their concerns are received and addressed.
The maturation of local government mapping systems revolves around performance based management. Municipal leaders and constituents are pushing maps to address performance questions:
- Are we taking the right actions?
- Are we effectively communicating what we are doing?
- Are we meeting our goals in a timely manner?
For example, city leaders might set a goal of improving response to citizen service requests. Maps showing the status of service requests built off the latest data would help leaders determine if the selected strategies were working, help citizens follow progress and provide regular reports on meeting goals. A time series map could show exactly how the status changed weekly, monthly or across the year.
In another example, municipal leaders need to enforce zoning regulations, set valuations, collect taxes and manage right of ways. Presenting authoritative property data and parcel boundaries is the heart of MapGeo. Planners can display the geographic concentration or trends in property sales over time relative to zoning, school or conservation districts or other mapped data that helps their decision making.
Making Data Meaningful
MapGeo brings together disparate data sources, integrating municipal data with other public and private sources including Google’s Street View. These up-to-date data, including access to details and related documents, fuel a familiar look and feel (e.g., the Google Maps API) with new visualization tools (e.g, CartoDB) to reveal performance metrics, patterns of change and distribution of resources. In this way, MapGeo is a powerful and flexible way to serve many kinds of users: residents, businesses, staff and visitors. Residents can learn when trash pickup occurs in their neighborhood. Business owners can find industrial zones to help determine where to locate a new warehouse. Conservation commission staff can determine the proximity of parcels to wetlands to enforce local green space and environmental regulations. Visitors can find information about where to park. None of these users needs to visit a specific office or dig into a file cabinet for an answer. All of these users can readily access MapGeo to find their answer.
A Higher Level View
While staffers of the Department of Public Works or the Assessor’s Office might look at just a few types of data, city leaders and administrators will want a bigger picture. They need a high level overview, a kind of operating picture of the municipality to measure if its meeting its goals in many different areas of responsibility. MapGeo can offer a look at the city’s workforce activity, show crime incidents and responses, summarize the number and location of inspections, detail work order requests and how quickly they are closed. MapGeo can show patterns and trends in economic development data such as property sales and values, construction activity, neighborhood revitalization projects, and commercial site availability. These datasets and their visualizations enable performance based management. They reveal projects and services that need more attention and can enable better decisions to organize resources to meet specific goals.
See MapGeo 2.0!