In a previous post, we listed five reasons to develop your own municipal GIS data: control, breadth, depth, flexibility, and presentation. Taken together, the tangible outcome should be making more informed decisions.
To further illustrate this issue, let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison. The image on the left is a map developed as a working document by one of our clients using manual methods prior to our involvement with their project. It shows part of a block where they wanted to explore targeted property acquisition. The questions they wanted to answer were: should we pursue acquiring properties on this block, which ones, how much will it cost?
In contrast, the image on the right shows a map of the same area developed by our staff in approximately 15 minutes.
The map on the right leverages the power of geospatial data and geographic information systems to do the following four things:
Communicate more completely, using “higher density” data
The GIS map communicates much more information at one time. Both maps show parcel lines and owner names. However the second map additionally illustrates building locations, neighborhood context, occupancy, and land use.
Save time in developing and repurposing graphics
While it looks fairly simple, the map on the left represents several hours of work involving tax map and deed requests to various City and County offices just to label the properties with owner names. Our client also took time to visit the neighborhood to obtain current occupancy information. This is the way things were done before the advent of municipal GIS in the client’s City.
We were able to accomplish the same task much more quickly and completely through the use of GIS data and didn’t have to leave our offices to get the job done.
The first map has additional drawbacks because it is analog. Making a paper original larger or smaller for use as a poster or on web pages is difficult and won’t look very good. The second map is infinitely scalable, editable, and can be forwarded to anyone as a PDF within seconds.
Focus discussion via filtering
The second map allows you to keep discussion on track because we suppressed labels on parcels that were determined to be irrelevant to discussions. Additionally the use of bright colors to highlight certain parcels naturally directs the eye and develops interest in them.
Recognize and share patterns more easily
By using colors rather than text, the GIS map graphic is legible from a distance. With a cursory glance, the pattern of vacant buildings compared to empty lots is easily recognized.
But our comparative case study doesn’t end there, after implementing a comprehensive municipal GIS our client was able to dig deeper for authoritative details. Just under the surface of the GIS map is a wealth of data linked to each parcel from the County tax assessor’s office. The client can click on any of the parcels to instantly obtain assessment and property sale data like that found in the table below. This type of operational intelligence allows for more informed decisions to be made for the project area and the City.