Government Technology

City of Tigard Completes Enterprise GIS Implementation

December 8, 2008 By

The city of Tigard, located in the Portland, Ore., metropolitan area, recently completed a 24-month enterprise GIS implementation resulting in a centralized corporate geodatabase environment with a suite of desktop and Web applications integrated with the city's key business systems.

Available to both city staff and the public, the city's Enterprise GIS (EGIS) has already greatly improved workflow efficiency and has simplified access to departmental data. The Tigard Police Department can now access both cases and 911 call records, managed in two separate systems, from a convenient Web-based interface complete with maps, reports and graphs. The Public Works Department can now quickly access maintenance and inspection history for a specific asset -- such as a valve or pipe -- from a map. The Community Development Department can query specific permit records for display on a map, or access permit history for specific tax lots using an interactive map.

The city decided in 2006 to formalize its GIS program and move forward with implementing an EGIS to serve both multiple internal departments as well as public users. "While all our key business systems such as permitting, asset management, customer billing and police systems are separate, they all have one thing in common: location. By bringing this information together we have extended the value of our information systems way beyond what was originally envisioned," said Tigard GIS Coordinator Preston Beck.

The keys to this successful project can be attributed to a clearly defined vision, plan and focus on application design efforts. To realize the EGIS vision, the city established an internal steering committee and produced a strategic GIS plan. The strategic plan was an internal effort and helped instill a sense of ownership and consensus in the overall vision from each of the departments. After this critical step, the city launched a formal citywide needs assessment.

Looking for expertise with GIS application and design for the EGIS implementation, the city selected GeoNorth, a prequalified GIS services vendor selected during an RFP process that had been initially hired to review internal planning efforts and complete a financial analysis of a five-year GIS budget plan. The process of implementing an EGIS and integrating GIS with other business systems can take many years so ensuring continuity of funding is critical for a successful program. These services provided long-range budget planning, ultimately resulting in the implementation of a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) based solution (GeoNorth's MapOptix), ArcIMS, and ArcSDE for a crime mapping pilot project to help better demonstrate the benefits of GIS to internal staff. Having the ability to access familiar data as envisioned greatly helped departmental staff conceptualize the possibilities and focus application design efforts. The pilot project was so successful that the city decided to go public with the solution known as "Crime Spotter."

Crime Spotter uses GeoNorth's MapOptix and Multi-Map Framework, as well as ESRI's ArcIMS, ArcSDE, ArcGIS and Adobe's ColdFusion. The MapOptix Multi-Map Framework is an extensible FuseBox solution that provides the basis for a report centric mapping application. It provides an intuitive way to query a database and generate summary pages with a map and report. "By simplifying the front end with just a simple address query," said Beck, "followed by a series of intuitive tabs with maps and tabular data in an easy to read format, the user's experience is greatly enhanced. Users do not need to worry about panning, zooming or figuring out what layers to turn on." Serving as the model for public access, the Crime Spotter solution exposed issues and helped to better refine goals for the planned EGIS solution. It also provided immediate benefits to the city while the larger system was being developed.

Rapid EGIS application development was possible due

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