Jurisdiction and Workflow at the Port of San Diego


The Port of San Diego is a dynamic and unconventional organization. We are an amalgam of overlapping and competing functions and priorities. In many ways we function like a moderately sized city, but without the autonomy many cities with 500 employees enjoy. In many ways we function like a private real estate management company but with a mandate, not to maximize shareholder value, but to balance economic benefits with a series of well-rounded priorities on behalf of the public. In many ways we function like a traditional Port with shipping containers and cruise terminals, but this is only part of the engine which makes the Port of San Diego function everyday. The Port of San Diego is truly a unique organization.

The uncommon workflow here at the Port provides our communications professionals with unique obstacles in educating the public about what we do and the role we play in our region as a whole. Part of their effort includes producing a series of videos, titled “Ask the Port”, where a man-in-the-street asks a question about the inner workings of the Port. Below is a video in which Irene McCormack, our Assistant Vice President for Government Relations and Communications, answers a question on the Ports jurisdiction.

The Ports GIS Team helps tie together this diverse organization. GIS, and geography, is highly interdisciplinary. The GIS Group focuses on enterprise data (data valuable across many departments) to drive a common operating picture here at the Port. We strive to set up and maintain a system where any Port employees can get answers to questions based on geography. The data in this system is “owned” or “managed” by the pertinent department. Sharing data in an easily consumable structure across the enterprise is one of our major challenges. Using maps to portray information can help overcome opaque disciple-specific jargon. We hope all employees, from an intern to our CEO, will be able to answer questions like: What are the impediments to development at this parcel? Where are our water pipes on our marine terminals? How does a proposed development impact our tenants?

Various departments break down the Port Tidelands differently. For example, our Real Estate department manages land leased to tenants, while our Engineering department focuses more of their efforts on non-leased lands, including streets, right of ways and our public parks. This makes sense considering tenants are often responsible for developments on Port Tidelands. Our Harbor Police patrol the entire Port Tidelands, including the San Diego International Airport.

Obstacles emerge when one department uses data originating in another. In true enterprise spirit, our Environmental department would like to use storm drain data from our engineering department. Unfortunately, the spatial priorities of these departments aren’t coincident. Do we use data from another source, which we don’t actively manage? Should either the Environmental or Engineering Department take ownership of this data? Maybe the GIS Group should be “owners” of the data? What resources will this require? As you can see there are real opportunities to create an integrated workflow across various departments, but formidable hurdles to overcome as we progress.

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One Response to “Jurisdiction and Workflow at the Port of San Diego”

  1. san diego real estate Says:

    “The Port of San Diego is truly a unique organization.”
    well said!

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