The County of San Mateo had already invested substantially in developing GIS functionality, but each department maintained separate project databases that were minimally integrated with each other. It was not uncommon for the same dataset to be duplicated among different offices and departments within the same organization, incurring unnecessary redundancy and inconsistency.
In an attempt to avoid the inaccuracies this generated, personnel resorted to using hard copy files and maps for sharing information between county offices, a costly, time-intensive, and antiquated process. While the GIS data was viewed as a valuable strategic asset and decision tool, storage and analysis of geographic data was seen as complex and resource-intensive and considered a separate function from county information delivery techniques and IT systems.
After consulting with Farallon, the County recognized that they could deploy an enterprise-wide GIS that allowed multiple departments to securely manage and access a single centralized geodatabase. This could eliminate duplication across organizational boundaries, reduce time chasing down information, and streamline traditional line-of-business operations.
Farallon assisted the County with a full-scale enterprise GIS implementation, including:
- Setting GIS data maintenance and workflow standards and procedures
- Developing and installing a central geodatabase
- Geo-enabling legacy databases
- Providing countywide product training
- Building web-based applications that allow easy access to the County’s wealth of GIS data and support a wide range of departmental workflows and business operations
With the newly implemented system and the proper training to understand and utilize the system, the County soon realized the benefits of enterprise GIS:
- Elimination of data replication
- More streamlined county business processes (e.g. tax collection)
- Facilitation of property recordation
- Better structured public works asset management workflows
- Reduced cost of doing business
- Improved revenue flow to the County
Once the County realized the applicability of the enterprise GIS, Farallon was charged with developing an implementation plan that leveraged the enterprise GIS to support other county work via a centralized geodatabase. Two immediate opportunities were identified: voter registration, and crime analysis for the Sheriff’s Office.
Voter Outreach Services
The County’s Clerk, Assessor, Recorder, and Elections Departments form a group (CARE) that is legally obligated to implement and monitor a county-wide voter outreach program. The goal: to target underrepresented communities in San Mateo County. CARE needed a quick and accurate visual representation of the disenfranchised Latino and Chinese-American communities in order to appropriately plan outreach activities. They needed to find out where to concentrate their efforts, educating and motivating people, utilizing materials printed in appropriate languages and personnel trained for the job. Meanwhile, policymakers needed more time and quicker, more accurate information. CARE asked Farallon to extend the enterprise GIS to identify areas with high concentrations of ethnic communities and low voter registration.
County’s Sheriff’s Office had yet another challenge: changing their outmoded ways of updating their records system for crime analysis. The Sheriff’s Office used a proprietary database, separate from the County’s enterprise GIS, to update incident records and historical information as well as maintain georeferenced data such as street intersection locations, jurisdictions, zoning, and location routing. The process was time consuming and manually intensive. Personnel charged with updating this information had to manually change information, generate copies of records, and reformat and then export data to the external site. This process could take up to half a day and create an information bottleneck. The Sheriff’s Office asked Farallon to develop a more efficient solution that would reduce resource drains as well as increase the accuracy of the data.