Here’s a short piece I recently wrote about a group of Texas counties collaborating on GIS solutions. This will be of interest to anyone who attended my presentation at SXSW last year on the importance of open data and data visualization in government.
The consortium operates under the direction of the East Texas Council of Governments (ETCOG), an already chummy and productive network of counties and other governmental entities with a shared commitment toward smart government. GIS encompasses the technology and analysis of electronic maps and the data they represent. It’s like your GPS, but with a brain and a hard drive, allowing officials and workers to spot geographic trends with satellite images without so much time in the field. The East Texas GIS Consortium’s goal is to share otherwise costly GIS systems, similar to a co-op, creating savings that ultimately benefit East Texas taxpayers. The city of Rusk, for example, mapped its fire hydrants and analyzed the data to identify underserved areas. By spotting deficiencies in hydrant service, officials can preempt disasters and other emergencies.