Foreword

By Hunter, Gary | URISA Journal, July 2005 | Go to article overview

Foreword


Hunter, Gary, URISA Journal


For many years now the annual URISA Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) Awards have recognized outstanding achievement in the successful development and application of spatial systems and technologies around the world. With this in mind, and given that each award winner represents a best practice case study in project implementation and management, URISA is now showcasing some of the best award recipients from the years 2000-2004. The reasons for this are twofold.

First, URISA realized that the winning case studies deserved to be given broader publicity and in effect they have become 'success stories in GIS' that can be used to guide everyone from senior managers to students in how to implement GIS projects. Secondly, URISA felt it was important to learn how the ESIG winners had progressed in the intervening years since receiving their awards.

ESIG awards are handed out in two categories: Single Process Systems and Enterprise Systems.

Single Process award winners are outstanding and working examples of applying information system technology to automate a specific SINGLE process or operation involving one department or sub-unit of an agency. The system application results in extended and/or improved government services that are more efficient and/or save money.

Enterprise Systems are outstanding and working examples of using information systems technology in a multi-department environment as part of an integrated process. These systems exemplify effective use of technology yielding widespread improvements in the process(es) and/ or service(s) involved and/or cost savings to the organization.

Accordingly, with the assistance of other ESIG jury members, Corrie Stokes and Ken Sipos, we were invited to examine all ESIG award applications over the past five years to arrive at a short list for publication. Managers of the systems concerned were contacted and asked if they could rework their original applications into short, sharp journal articles and also update readers on their latest system developments. The results are to be published over the next two issues of the URISA Journal with six articles to appear in each issue.

In this issue, past ESIG winners from Alberta, Ontario, Washington DC, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Minnesota will be showcased

To begin, the Alberta, Canada, Spatial Information (SPIN) System was initiated for the key purpose of developing a modern web-based digital survey plan registration, archiving, printing and distribution process. The success of SPIN has seen it subsequently act as a catalyst for other organizations to pay to have their own spatial datasets delivered through the system. Benefits achieved include: a 33% cost reduction in web-delivered plan data; provision of around-the-clock, up-to-date information to system clients in isolated communities; and savings of $1 million per year in provincial cadastral map updating. SPIN 2 is now well-underway with the aim of achieving a true 'one-stop-shop' e-commerce basis for doing business with the Alberta government.

Next, the Chatham-Kent Online system in Ontario, Canada, was implemented as an open-access, online GIS to serve the business interests of municipal staff, clients, customers and consultants. The Chatham-Kent municipality was the result of a 1998 amalgamation of 23 communities, 13 utility companies and 5 police forces, and from the outset GIS was identified as the way to meet the diverse information needs of its constituents and officials. With only a modest starting budget of $150,000 there was a critical need to focus on the benefits of potential partnerships and data sharing, with the aim of making GIS as pervasive and common to users as word processing.

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