Philadelphia casts a long history applying Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Embraced within the early 1990s by the Streets Department, GIS has become a part of the material defining information technology for the agency.

Meeting the mission to supply clean communities and safe streets requires quite knowing where things are located. It demands an in depth understanding of the shared interests and therefore the relationships across programs, related Departments, and an outsized community of public and personal entities with concerns involving the common right-of-way. Integrating applications and data through a spatial framework provides the idea for collaborative planning, execution of labor, and evaluation of outcomes towards the management of entire business landscapes. The Department has benefitted by those forces necessary to successful adoption– creative, engaged employees and executive support that is still consistent. The embrace of GIS has positioned us to require the advantage of the longer term.

Challenges Only Increase

Philadelphia has over 1.5mn residents. It's among a couple of major US cities dating to the colonial era. The first city plan is almost three centuries old, and will not have anticipated the contemporary urban environment, including complex infrastructure, increasing development, and roads supporting shared use by vehicles, pedestrians, and bikes. The Streets Department manages 2,525 miles of roads, nearly 200,000 poles and attachments, and over 3000 signalized intersections. The town reviews on the brink of 15,000 right-of-way permits annually, receives between 500 to 600 service requests per day, and provides waste management services to over 530,000 residences. The Department is challenged to realize quality service at high volume even with a piece force of nearly 1,800 employees. Fortunately, GIS supports coordination of our activities also as those of various public and personal entities related directly through interests or indirectly through shared space.

"Integrating applications and data through a spatial framework provides the idea for collaborative planning, execution of labor, and evaluation of outcomes"

Solutions Require Innovation

The Streets Department’s GIS underpinning is that the street centerline. It describes the network of roads in Philadelphia and key attributes like name, address range, and directionality. Comprised of over 40,000 spatially referenced segments, the centerline is employed by numerous City agencies and out of doors parties. It’s critical to activities starting from 911 and emergency response to planning and development. For the Streets Department, it’s crucial in administering transportation, the condition of assets, and our resources. Dozens of datasets are tied to the centerline. Moreover, this data becomes more beneficial as GPS and digital mapping technologies become mainstream. Increasing collection and sharing of spatial information creates new scopes and brings higher sophistication to existing methods. A GIS-enabled tool is being used by the department to document agreement of curb ramps with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Another application administers web-based mapping of permitted street closures within a specified distance to citizens through their mobile. Developing innovative systems that capture and cash in of geographic data is crucial to improving public service.

GIS may be a powerful tool for integrating an application portfolio. Where certain liaisons are traditionally defined through key fields like project ID, GIS not only relates data through regard to features, but supports implied relationships through proximity. This is often particularly valuable where the co-location of assets isn't easily recognized or activities were executed independent of 1 another. Building GIS into applications and across systems ensures that spatial relationships are a part of the method. This improvises workflow and dodges costly mistakes while building an ever stronger foundation for analysis and problem solving.

While public engagement creates a greater awareness of needs like traffic light and street light maintenance or sanitation enforcement, it also raises expectations. GIS is instrumental in meeting these demands. Apprehending location and relating it to core framework through the centerline ensures data availability for analysis. This provides a chance to predict issues and monitor service delivery trends towards goals like equitable quality of life.

GIS is incorporated into most of our applications. From planning actions through a web system requiring utilities to equalize excavation add the right-of-way to accepting of street closures and follow up inspections, relationships are managed to make sure an understandable picture of our physical infrastructure and therefore the forces working on it. Through process and advertise integration the Streets Department is in a place to focus energy where and when it’s required to reinforce service delivery and ensure our collective interest.

The City’s role in Shared Services and GIS

It’s tough to travel alone. The City’s Office of Innovation and Technology provides core services, as well as GIS expertise and an environment for sharing data. Standards for creating spatial data available internally and publicly are established to make sure both access and understanding. OIT manages enterprise software solutions and provides guidance, lightening the load for those whose focus is split between Department mission and knowledge technology.

Most important, OIT oversees working groups that advocate data exchange and association. The single relationships entrenched through these forums are important to technology transfer and data exchange. Feedback through both formal and informal concedes is complex to alignment, integration, and constant betterment across Departments. This central resource creates a flood tide that lifts all boats.

What Does the longer term Hold?

Endless possibilities lie ahead, particularly for those that view individual applications and GIS as a neighborhood of larger integrated systems. Use of mobile technology is expanding exponentially; governments and businesses have the ability to deliver information and capture data at point folks and wish with unprecedented ease across growing communities. The Streets Department is planning new and upgraded mobile solutions to reinforce spatial intelligence through the mixing of GIS datasets. Moreover, work with other Departments seeks to take advantage of relationships and customary workflows. Citywide web-based mapping is increasingly capable of organizing current relevant data around themes to answer questions, provide background, and support deciding.

Another appearing area, Public-Private partnerships, promise expanded access to vast datasets, like real-time traffic reporting which will improve situational awareness and important response. These same solutions help to create a repository of data which will assist with future technology adoption, development, and implementation.

Geography is vital to everything we do–it has always been practiced. GIS taps one among the elemental planes supporting human communication. The skills to represent location, understand distance and scale, and recognize and convey spatial relationships are innate. GIS unlocks amazing smoldering potential by promoting these core capabilities through the technologies we use a day. It plays an ever-increasing role within the City’s effort to enhance quality of life for the residents of Philadelphia.