Local gvernments in Europe are using GIS to promote interagency cooperation and coordination to expeditev exchange of information among agencies and underpin citizen notification systems.
Local Governments in Europe Use GIS to Promote Interagency Cooperation and CoordinationBy Jim BaumannWith growing populations, aging infrastructure, and an ongoing mandate to reduce costs while maintaining or expanding service levels, local governments throughout Europe are facing increasing challenges in meeting their civic and legal obligations. Geographic Information System (GIS) technology has proven to be a unique tool in expediting the exchange of information among governmental agencies and underpinning citizen notification systems. The following examples provide a view of some uses of GIS among European local governments.* Bavarian Rural District Uses GIS to Improve Information Management and DistributionCham, a rural district in the German state of Bavaria, includes 39 local municipalities and approximately 130,000 inhabitants within its boundaries. The population in the district is widely dispersed, and the inherent fragmented nature of the local government structure was beset with administrative problems. A major challenge was the necessity to integrate disparate information into an efficient data management system with the ability to easily maintain and exchange data within the district.In 2005, Cham implemented an inter-district GIS, locally known as IKGIS Cham. In addition, local public utility companies and other local government agencies agreed to participate in the development of the GIS.To make certain that it could meet future as well as current requirements, the system was based on ArcGIS, ESRI's comprehensive product family. Application areas include cadastre, land-use planning, water/wastewater infrastructure, and regional tourism. This is all aided by the provision of homogeneous geodata including aerial imagery, digital elevation models, and precise basemaps. With the implementation of its GIS, Cham has transformed a rural, decentralized regional government administration into a modern enterprise-based service organization. This was accomplished by optimizing its business processes between the central district administration offices and the various municipalities.Commenting on the implementation, Wolfgang Egner of ESRI Geoinformatik said, âThe extremely heterogeneous set of applications within the district was too complicated for most available GIS systems. Therefore, the district of Cham chose ESRI's ArcInfo in conjunction with the integrated, object relational ArcSDE geodatabase as the basis of its overall enterprise GIS system.â* GÃ¤vle Kommun Expands Use of GIS Throughout Public and Private SectorsWhile the GÃ¤vle Kommun in Sweden has been building and maintaining geographic databases for more than 30 years, its growing accumulation of data in various formats and the need to share data with nearby local governments and agencies demanded the implementation of a more efficient data management system. The kommun, or district, needed an efficient method to manage spatial data from many sources including neighboring municipalities, the National Land Survey, the Swedish National Road Administration, the National Rail Administration, and the county administrative board. In addition, the general public needed access to certain information.In 1997, the municipality successfully moved all its digital geographic information to ESRI's GIS software platform. This allowed them to develop applications to link various databases with the GIS to create a common data platform for more efficient use by both the private and public sectors. The GÃ¤vle Kommun GIS is based on ArcGIS and Microsoft's SQL Server, which is used for data storage and administration. The kommun has developed nearly 20 applications to assist in its work, from private property information management to determining bus pass eligibility.GÃ¤vle Kommun met its goal of establishing and maintaining a regional geographic database for use by participating local governments and other agencies. In turn, these organizations provide services to other potential users such as taxi firms, ambulance services, fire and rescue services, county mass transit, and waste management. In parallel with this project, GÃ¤vle Kommun developed an address and information application to make information available to those organizations from their respective Web sites.Concludes Eddie Larsson, GIS manager for GÃ¤vle Kommun, âWith careful planning and management, we have successfully implemented a comprehensive regional GIS. Software solutions from ESRI and Microsoft provide us with a robust and flexible backbone for our system.â* GIS Basis of County of Surrey's Public Alert SystemWith more than 1 million residents, the county of Surrey has one of the largest populations in England, primarily because of its proximity to London, the political and economic capital of the country. While widespread emergencies are relatively few in the county, events such as the flooding and fuel crises of 2000 and the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001 underscored the need for the local government to develop a method to promptly inform and advise its residents in times of disaster and provide a point of contact for day-to-day matters.In addition, the United Kingdom instituted the Civil Contingencies Act in 2004, which required that all of the country's administrative districts implement a rapid response system for emergency management. This Parliamentary Act requires that the federal government be immediately apprised of any emergency situation that can endanger its residents so that remedial actions can be implemented.In response to public demand and the need to fulfill its legal responsibility to maintain the safety of its residents, the county launched SurreyAlert in 2001. The system was developed as a cooperative effort between Surrey's police, fire, and ambulance services; the Surrey County Council; and 11 district and borough councils and makes the county compliant with the requirements of the Civil Contingencies Act. The system uses ESRI's ArcGIS software, including ArcIMS and ArcSDE.SurreyAlert performs two distinct functions. First, it serves as a hub for the provision of information and guidance to those members of the general public that are affected by an incident or crisis. This information can be provided in the form of an interactive map or as advice bulletins and is available to all at www.surreyalert.info. The system also acts as a virtual command and control center for the Surrey emergency services and local government agencies to connect in real time to a variety of datasets so that it can monitor incidents and provide input for the incident management process. This element of SurreyAlert is only accessible on the Surrey extranet to those involved in emergency management.In the event of a major incident, SurreyAlert provides a Web-enabled communications interface combined with a GIS mapping functionality that can be easily accessed by all agencies participating in the management and mitigation of any specific emergency. The system also provides essential information to the decision-making process through its ability to be updated with relevant, up-to-date information when requested, which is essential when dealing with a major incident.SurreyAlert also provides a means to inform and advise the public in a coordinated manner from a single point of reference for both emergency and non-emergency matters. The Web site includes a risk register that details wide-ranging information, instructions, and guidance regarding emergency preparation, avian influenza updates, the Surrey Major Incident Plan, FAQs, and other emergency response details. In addition, it provides public advisements, which are updated throughout the day, on roadwork projects, emergency school closings, public transportation delays, and other announcements of public interest. The information is available in several languages, as is stipulated by law.Observes Mike Abbott, strategic lead for the Surrey County Council Safer and Stronger Communities group, âSurrey County Council wholly depends on SurreyAlert to meet its statutory obligation under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 to 'warn and inform' the public.âWith the increasing need for accurate, up-to-date information, local governments are expanding their use of GIS beyond the fulfilment of departmental tasks to implement enterprise-wide systems capable of managing diverse spatial datasets for applications ranging from regional analysis to disaster management.About the Author.Jim Baumann writes about international GIS-related topics for ESRI. He has written articles on various aspects of the computer graphics industry and information technology for more than 20 years.
Author: Jim Bauman
Bio.: International Marketing Write/Editor for ESRI Inc
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