Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Software Helps Municipality Redistrict City Council Boundaries

December 18, 2012 By

As city populations rise and fall, and shift – trends reflected in U.S. Census Bureau data – municipalities are tasked with redistricting their city council boundaries. And in one Arkansas city,  new software helps with the process.

Redistricting determines how a city’s local school board, city council, state legislative and congressional districts are drawn, according to a report by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Current Census data is used to reshape lines and boundaries of electoral districts within a state – a process that impacts all levels of government.

Wes Cleland, the GIS coordinator and IT manager of Van Buren, Ark., a rural city located near the Arkansas-Oklahoma border with a population of less than 23,000, said that to help the city with its City Council redistricting, he first needed to acquire its 2010 Census data from the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Cleland worked with the University of South Carolina to utilize redistricting software called iRedistrict, which analyzes the Census data and, using a series of features, adjusts boundaries to show several different results based on how the city wants to configure the data.

According to iRedistrict's official website, the software generates redistricting plans through a combination of individual preference and mandatory requirements. When generating new boundaries, the software takes factors such as population equality and compact shape into consideration for optimal layouts.

After making a series of tweaks to create acceptable margins to the software-generated boundaries, Cleland said the margins still didn’t correlate with major terrain features like railroads and highways, but were then adjusted to those correlations. “So we were able to take it and adjust it just slightly to where it matched actual terrain features,” he said.

Before final adjustments were made to the selected redistricting format, Cleland said three different versions were presented to the City Council. Of the three, the Council voted on which layout would work best for the city. 

Once the layout was selected, the final adjustments were added.

Although using the software made redistricting Van Buren a quicker process for Cleland, utilizing the technology for larger cities doesn’t extend the length of time it takes to redistrict new city council boundaries. Cleland said the redistricting process for his city was completed in “record time” only because there were just three layout plans to choose from, as opposed to other cities that may choose to generate more than three layout plans when voting on new redistricting boundaries. 

“It’s all a matter of pushing a button once you have everything programmed correctly.” 

 Photo from Shutterstock

| More


Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All