While GIS has long been an important tool for municipal departments—water utilities and public works, for example—we’ve seen increased implementation across more unique aspects of municipal government. As GIS continues to become easier to use, easier to learn, and easier to implement, we will see local government and utility organizations adopt location intelligence as a key indicator for responding to constituent demands and solving community needs.

For example, a municipal organization may choose to implement a GIS-centric 311 solution, not just for the intake of resident complaints and service issues but also to gather data to assess and improve parity among service areas.

Machine learning tools will also become more accessible and easy-to-use, even for cash-strapped municipal organizations. For instance, a city could leverage the cameras deployed around its city as additional eyes for the public works department. Camera imagery can be surveyed and analyzed by computers trained to identify what a pothole looks like. With that detection, a pothole repair work order could be automatically generated in a GIS-centric work management system. This takes into account hundreds of potential data-driven points to generate work activities as organizations continue to strive to improve their level of service.

Smart technologies are enabling more capabilities for collaboration across cloud platforms, the Internet of Things, machine learning, and tools for data analysis. GIS will play a significant role in connecting the dots. GIS is more than the location of assets—it helps illustrate the connections and dependencies throughout your entire network.

Maybe a community is trying to turn on critical services after a hurricane to ensure safe conditions for its residents.

Maybe a water utility is implementing smart sensors to actively reduce water main breaks and service disruptions.

Maybe a city permitting department has connected its database with an online licensing portal operated by the state.

Data analytics and location intelligence will increasingly help organizations identify insights and data points to be shared among different municipal organizations and their stakeholders.

As municipalities and utilities become immersed in the importance of location intelligence, the next logical step will be to make these solutions multi-jurisdictional to include collaboration with neighboring communities and outside agencies.

Just imagine the impact of breaking down data silos across city, county, and state lines to improve operations and customer service. It’s time to think beyond smart cities and take it to the next level where organizations are empowering GIS intelligence to help build local communities with global connections for improved resiliency and sustainability.

By Rebecca Tamashasky, Vice President of Vision & Product Engineering

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