The City of San Diego is joining the ranks of other high-profile organizations in winning an international award for its use of geographic information systems (GIS). Earlier today, the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) presented the City with its 2019 President’s Award at its annual User Conference.
“We’re using technology in new and innovative ways to deliver better customer service to our residents and improve the lives of fellow San Diegans,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “Whether it’s reducing emergency response times, planning for future growth or fixing potholes through the ‘Get It Done’ app, geographic information systems are an integral part of city operations and provide the building blocks to leave behind a better San Diego than the one we inherited.”
GIS is mapping software which manages, displays and analyzes geographic and spatial data. The City uses it for critical services including 911 dispatch, the “Get It Done” app and street-related work order processing.
Esri, a global market leader and supplier of GIS software, selected the City out of its 150,000 worldwide customers for its leadership and innovation in GIS technology. Former award winners include the American Red Cross, UPS, FEMA and the National Audubon Society. The award comes at a fitting time, as Esri is celebrating its 50th anniversary and the City was its first client.
“Being recognized on an international stage is wonderful, but the real reward is delivering innovation and efficiencies to City services every day,” said Jonathan Behnke, the City’s Chief Information Officer. “In addition to celebrating all of our amazing GIS integrations and tools, Esri is using this recognition to remind the tech community of how important the City has been as a launchpad, developing innovative solutions to asset management, emergency response, risk assessment and spatial analytics.”
The City first began using GIS in 1980. In 1984, it partnered with San Diego County to establish a regional GIS which evolved into the agency SanGIS. Launched in 1997, SanGIS is an online hub of geographical data that is stored and publicly available to download. It includes 396 data layers and 2.2 million landbase data items, including parcels of land, road segments, intersection points and address points.
The City has continued to use GIS for services including crime analysis, brush management, fire hazard assessment, planning and community development, traffic assessment and special event permitting. More than 2,500 City staff members rely directly on GIS data for their business decisions.
With new technologies rapidly developing, the City envisions using GIS to support unmanned aerial vehicles, new strategies in monitoring wildfires, augmented reality, improved crime analytics, as well as detailing curb spaces on streets to facilitate vehicle delivery and ride-share services, semi-autonomous vehicles, and vehicular and pedestrian safety.
More than 4,200 intelligent sensors are being installed on City streetlights as part of the Smart Streetlights program, collecting GIS data on pedestrian and vehicle movement, parked cars and other mobility information. The data will help with various services including pedestrian safety, directing drivers to open parking spaces and helping first responders during an emergency. The City will use GIS to continue advancing homeless support programs and serve as a collaborative data standard for regional planning.