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Editor’s Note: Missed the “A Modern Approach to Permitting and Planning” training session on November 21 produced by GovLoop, Esri and Accela? Read on and then listen to the recording to hear how agencies are creating a more holistic approach to land management and a checklist of things to consider as your agency looks to do the same.


Your Future Is Already Mapped Out
By Kathryn David, GovLoop

“Success in GIS is putting actionable intelligence into the hands of the people that need it.” 
-Keith Cooke, State Government Account Executive, Esri

Technology helps us make sense of constantly changing and complex data. One field where managing real-time developments in regulations and processing is essential is land management. GIS and mapping technology have the potential to revolutionize the land permitting and planning system, but only if we know how to use it.

That’s why GovLoop, Esri, and Accela came together to present a training on how to modernize plan submissions, zoning reviews, inspections and all of the complicated aspects of land management. The expert panel included:

Keith Cooke, State Government Account Executive, Esri
Roger Keren, Certified Planner and Solution Consultant, Accela

You can listen to the full training here. For now, here are three ways GIS will be the foundation of land management in the future.

Get The Word Out: And Be Understood

“GIS allows us to visualize the information we need to enable executives and decision makers to view the data in the manner that makes sense to them,” explained Cooke. GIS makes relevant data digestible to anyone interested in using the data. “Data for everyone makes government more efficient and more effective,” added Keren. The more people involved that can understand the information related to land management, the better the process will be. GIS answers questions such as “Where is the concentration of permits?” “How have we zoned this type of building in the past?” “What comments does the engineer have about the project?” for anyone with a stake in the process. “They might not agree with everything, but at least they can understand your methodologies,” said Cooke. GIS does not just show how agencies make their decisions, the visual data shows the justification of their decision making to the public and other stakeholders.

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

The land management process involves people across sectors: legal experts, construction personnel, engineers, architects, elected officials, local government employees, and, of course, the general public. These departments rarely work together, until a problem arises. GIS will change that. “With land management there’s a lot of, ‘I didn’t know they were doing that!’ stated Keren. “How often did you just find out about a project relevant to your office because you happened to overhear something at lunch?”

GIS operates on accessible and collaborative software platforms so that departments can easily work together and be notified of developments. Accela and Esri have a tool that shows personnel exactly what changes have been made to plans, who made the changes, why they made the changes (turning comments into data), and when they made the changes. “We are using the map to break down silos,” explained Cooke.

Think beyond traditional applications

Land management may seem like the best case study for how GIS can revolutionize operations. After all, as Cooke pointed out, “Permitting is geographically based.” However, the importance of GIS goes beyond simple geography. The way GIS is transforming every single aspect of land management has important implications for project management across sectors. “Maps are becoming more pervasive. A transformation has occurred in how we use GIS. We are using it everywhere,” said Cooke.

Both Cooke and Keren shared applications for GIS that you might not expect: from turning lists of data points into visual research tools to mapping Excel sheets. For the full list, be sure to listen to our webinar. However, Cooke summed it up nicely in the q&a section of our training:

“GIS is not a niche technology. When your CIO, when your boss, when your city planner is going to conferences, they’re talking about GIS. For many organizations, it’s a mission critical business system.”

GIS is not just revolutionizing land management. Mapping technologies are transforming the way we process all kinds of information. Do not let your agency get left behind. Tune in to our training to start using GIS in your department and see your operations transformed.

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