The Future of GIS Collaboration in Government


At a past division meeting our newly appointed President/CEO, Charlie Wurster, talked candidly and took questions about his past experiences. He also shared why he is excited to be at the Port of San Diego and expressed his management philosophy and guiding principals. At one point during this informal meeting, Mr. Wurster explained that we have to work closely with our tenants and 5 member cities. He went on to use the following example: if we were to be working with an adjacent government agency to build a new railroad, we would want the tracks to meet properly. Then he held up his hands like two like 2 guns point toward each other and explained that it takes collaboration, clear communication, and experience to accomplish our goals; we need to work closely within our organization and with companies, groups and interests in our region.


GIS will undoubtedly play a role in this type of effort, not only in support of our Engineers, CAD Designers, Construction Inspectors, Landuse Planners and the myriad of other in-house professionals at the Port of San Diego, but also as a means to share geographic information as a business process.

We are currently implementing this approach within the port through the PortGIS Program. Our CAD designers are responsible to create, update, and manage our utilities data. This data is then shared, as a service, through GIS based websites and across the enterprise to General Services, Real Estate, Harbor Police, Marine Operations and any other Port Employee who depends on this data. Our CAD Designers are the “owners” of the utilities data. In turn, we are working with our Land Use Planning Department to collect data to share it across the enterprise in the same fashion.

Sharing GIS data in this way is a fairly new concept, but it has been embraced with enthusiasm at many federal and state agencies. Below is a video of Jack Dangermond’s recent presentation at the Gov 2.0 Summit about how this integration will streamline the way we use, view, and share GIS data. He outlines a vision of how “owners” of data can share data between agencies. As the purveyors of spatial data, whether it be lease information such as renewal dates, police dispatch data, pollution numbers and statistics, it is important we embrace this vision as we work within our organization and interact with outside entities.
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According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s Federal Enterprise Architecture framework, 74 percent of government data is location based. At the state and local level the number is even higher – 80 percent – according to several organizations and publications.

Our region is a complex amalgamation of overlapping and intersecting interests. Centre City Development Corporation (CCDC), San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), California Coastal Commission and CalTrans each manage infrastructure and services. Local regulated utilities like San Diego Gas and Electric (SDGE) and Cox Communications have business interests and easements. Both the San Diego Convention Center and the San Diego County Airport Authority (SDCAA) manage tenants independently of the Port and are both undergoing their own respective land use planning efforts. Our 5 neighboring cities and the county manage parcel boundaries and tax information. And with a population of 1.3 million people, the City of San Diego manages a myriad of services, with which we work closely on a daily basis.

As GIS data services flow down from the federal and state government we will also embrace GIS Services as a method to share and collaborate. As governmental agencies, we each have a stake in managing our geographic interests in the most cost efficient and effective means possible. At the Port of San Diego we should begin with the end in mind. We should work towards Mr. Wurster’s goal of full integration so our geographic data flows seamlessly through GIS services, both between departments at the Port of San Diego and between the Port and the wide variety of agencies which effect our workflow.

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2 Responses to “The Future of GIS Collaboration in Government”

  1. Twitter Trackbacks for The Future of GIS Collaboration in Government « %scratchworkspace% [] on Says:

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  2. Bill Bartmann Says:

    There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

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