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Council sends CE to collect award

July 21, 2004

Council sends CE to collect award

The North Shore City Council is sending its chief executive to the world's major GIS (Geographic Information System) conference in San Diego next month to pick up an international award and all the information he can gather during a week-long study tour.

John Brockies will collect a 'Special Achievement in GIS' award from the United States-based Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) in recognition of the council's use of technology to improve customer service. The council launched the GIS Viewer service on its website, www.northshorecity.govt.nz, last December allowing customers to access a wide range of mapping information online.

Acknowledged as the industry leader, the ESRI conference has been running for 25 years and an estimated 13,000 delegates from around the world will attend this year's event.

GIS is the core technical system used by local authorities and public utilities. It enables a sophisticated approach to the management of network assets such as roads and water systems, which in North Shore City's case are worth $1.5 billion.

"In organisations such as ours, GIS is used more and more widely for integrated land use planning and emergency management," John Brockies says.

"Our system has been judged as one of the better examples but we've still got a lot to learn.

"GIS manager, Kumar Kannan, and I are attending this conference and, between us, we'll cover a good number of the many work sessions presented by other users that will help us to identify ways to improve North Shore City's own GIS.

"We've also arranged to visit local authorities and utility companies in the San Diego region which use comparable GIS systems to North Shore City. Again, our goal is seek out 'best practice' organisations, learn first-hand about their experiences on everything from emergency response and recovery to transport planning, and then apply the lessons when we get home," he says.

ESRI has invited John Brockies to attend the senior management seminar for leaders which will include state governors, mayors, fellow chief executives and senior IT executives. The seminar starts with a one-day retreat on key issues facing cities around the world - including the role of GIS in security.

"The Department of Homeland Security in the USA has invested heavily in the use of mobile GIS technology in the wake of 911. These life-saving tools can be applied in New Zealand in our own civil defence-emergency management programmes," he says.

"GIS has a critical role to play in the way we do run our city and deliver services to our community.

"Local government is using this technology to provide more services, faster and better than before.

"Our GIS Viewer attracted more than 9000 visits last month and almost 130,000 maps were created as a result. Our surveys show that those customers who visited this part of our site spent a lot of time and collected an average of 14 pieces of information per visit. This includes rates details, legal descriptions for parcels of land and where to find the drains beneath their property.

"The requests come from a wide range of professionals and other utilities as well as individual requests from property owners and developers.

"The ESRI award acknowledges GIS Viewer as a leading example even on an international scale and will be a highlight for the staff who have worked on this system to see it given such prominence internationally," Mr Brockies says.


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