Sacramento County, California WebGIS (2004-Enterprise System)

By Exline, Roger | URISA Journal, January 2006 | Go to article overview

Sacramento County, California WebGIS (2004-Enterprise System)


Exline, Roger, URISA Journal


System Summary

Prior to the Sacramento County WebGIS, county departments have redundantly maintained several databases in hard-copy and electronic formats. Often the same data was both stored in both electronic and hard-copy forms on various paper maps and documents for future reference at public counters or in the field. Varying data creation and maintenance procedures resulted in data inconsistencies that both impede interdepartmental coordination as well as adversely impact decision making. The end result was less than desirable work efficiency and customer service. With the development of the WebGIS, the county has begun to embark on a new way of doing business where data sharing, system integration, and regional collaboration will maximize technology investments.

Spatial geographic information system (GIS) layers, tabular data from Property Shared Database (PSD), the Assessor's Information Management System (AIMS), permit data from Building Inspection's Advantage Permit System, facility data from three different Maintenance Management Systems, orthophotos, as well as FileNET images of subdivision/parcel maps, building permits, easements, deeds, engineering improvement plans, and more, are now accessible to the user at his or her desktop. This aggregation of data from multiple databases into a single window in the WebGIS has eliminated countless phone calls, staff trips to file cabinets, storerooms, and/or public counters, as well as resource-wasting field trips. WebGIS has put GIS capabilities at every desktop computer attached to the county WAN, in addition to all wireless devices used in the field. A new level of fiscal responsibility has been achieved that has increased the GIS user base without excessively raising the costs for software, software maintenance, and staff training.

The Sacramento County WebGIS system has quickly become the most highly used and dominant work tool in the county today. The applications currently log more than 50,000 queries a month, averaging almost 2,500 in a typical workday. Queries range from a basic address, parcel, or owner query, to more specialized uses in many different departments. County departments have benefited from WebGIS in ways not envisioned before, such as being able to identify illegal vineyards, insure rights-of-way are not excavated right after new pavement overlays, find the address of potential witnesses prior to trial, as well as early assigning of both parcel numbers and addresses to expedite the building permit process. The bottom line is that the WebGIS has now unlocked doors that many county departments have begun to open in their pursuit of greater efficiency.

This enterprise look at data has reaped some additional benefits as well. The combination of a growing user list as well as integration with other systems and databases has identified many data inconsistencies that have now been corrected. Several redundant data-maintenance tasks have been eliminated. Efficiency gains and the ability to make quicker, more informed decisions based on more accurate data have produced widespread benefits to several county departments.

Not only are the Sacramento County WebGIS applications a premier example of enterprise GIS, they are quickly expanding beyond the county to serve the needs of many other local agencies in the Sacramento region. Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections provide other local agencies with access to the WebGIS. This growing user list will ultimately result in more accurate and timely data for use at every connected desktop or field laptop. Every participating agency will benefit from data sharing, increased efficiency, improved decision making, and shared funding of application and data development in the future. The regional collaboration that has been fostered will benefit the citizens of Sacramento County for years to come.

Motivation for System Development

Because investments in GIS technology are quite expensive and uncertain economic times and budget constraints have become an annual problem, Sacramento County sought to implement GIS countywide in a manner that would maximize the use and access of all georeferenced data for the mutual benefit of all users. …

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