GIS Strategic Plan Sets Up a City’s GIS Program for Success
Client: City of Pullman
Location: Pullman, Washington
About the Project
Several years of rapid population growth and increasing pressure on city services motivated the City of Pullman to identify more efficient ways to track, manage, and scale up operations across city departments. Pullman’s leaders identified optimizing GIS use as a key to alleviating current issues and ensure future use of GIS would make the best use of Pullman’s limited resources. Working collaboratively with Pullman staff, FLO created a GIS strategic plan that evaluated the city’s current use of GIS, identified implementation requirements and considerations, and then provided a five-year roadmap to guide implementation.
Meet the Client
Pullman is a small city in Eastern Washington with around 34,000 residents. It is home to Washington State University and has a strong agricultural economy, known for its production of wheat and legumes.
The GIS Needs Assessment
The first step to creating a GIS strategic plan is a GIS needs assessment, where we seek to understand the current state of an organization’s GIS and what they want to do in the future. The purpose of the GIS needs assessment is to acknowledge weaknesses in an organization’s use of GIS, and then develop the strategic plan to resolve the issues. The main elements of our GIS needs assessment for Pullman included:
- Establishing the short- and long-term objectives of “boots on the ground” users of GIS through face-to-face interviews—for Pullman, that included 14 people across four city departments.
- Evaluating the use of relevant software (e.g., ArcGIS, AutoCAD).
- Identifying relevant spatial data repositories.
- Evaluating hardware, server, and network resources, including mobile devices.
- Understanding, in general, Pullman’s day-to-day workflows and related procedures.
- Identifying methods for capturing and recording institutional knowledge to facilitate transfer of such knowledge.
- Identifying mechanisms to allow for better access to GIS datasets, along with other routinely used datasets (e.g., parcels).
- Identifying opportunities for an increased return on investment using GIS, including data access, process automation, and capacity building.
The GIS Strategic Plan
After the needs assessment was completed, we used our findings to develop a GIS strategic plan that Pullman could use to alleviate current issues and chart a successful path forward over the next five years with a list of implementation recommendations and timeline. Some of our key recommendations for Pullman included:
- Governance and Personnel Resources: formalize governance responsibilities, develop a data publication policy to provide a framework, and establish long term budgeting for regular data updates (e.g., aerial imagery and data maintenance) and staff training.
- Software Technologies: to reduce data transfer demands and provide a single source of data for all GIS activities, implement ArcGIS Enterprise Standard. Enterprise GIS is designed to support multi-editing and data access and would address the bulk of the City’s needs, from centralized data management and data synchronization with other systems to visualization and analysis.
- Hardware, Software, and Network Resources: establish minimum hardware requirements for GIS users and core systems and maintain IT infrastructure accordingly.
- Spatial Data: centralize data and provide access via services or direct database connections as appropriate. Prioritize developing a host of key datasets for use by staff, and establish standards for data collection, projects and processes and ensure that metadata is available to all users.
- Departmental: work towards developing the datasets and tools necessary for departmental staff to realize the efficiencies gained by having access to current, complete, and accurate City asset data. Integration between systems is a high priority and must be a key metric of any software update or implementation plans.
“I’ve seen City of Pullman make incredible headway on developing their GIS capabilities since our original GIS needs assessment. They went from having a lot of room for improvement to really taking on more complex projects, like advancing their GIS program from AutoCAD to web maps.”
—Ruth McColly, senior GIS analyst