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The Maryland State Police are now able to pinpoint traffic accident “hot spots” across the state thanks to a geographic information system (GIS) developed in partnership with the Washington College GIS Program.

The college studied the state’s data on collision type, the severity of the crashes and the police’s crash collision code. Thus, state officials have used the data for their Reducing Crime and Crashes initiative.

GIS has given public safety and emergency management officials a new perspective on what’s happening in their areas of responsibility; officials continue to invest in GIS to support their emergency responses.

“Mapping has shifted from a focus on the event itself (modeling physical processes) toward a focus on understanding interactions between people and the environment,” said Susan L. Cutter, a Carolina Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina, in an interview with Eric Holdeman for Emergency Management magazine.

State and Local Agencies are Investing Steadily in GIS

Analyzing the IT/IS and public safety industries in Onvia’s Project Center revealed that state and local governments released more than 300 requests for proposals and bids in 2014, which include GIS mapping. GIS mapping supports, among other initiatives, public safety and emergency management.

These investments are spread evenly across various levels of government. States issued 33% of the solicitations, cities released 34% and counties released 32%.

In 2013, state and local governments released roughly the same number of GIS mapping solicitations. Counties released 35% of RFPs and bids, states issued 32% and cities issued 31%.

GIS mapping and emergency management goes beyond traffic collisions:

ExampleThe Montana Department of Transportation released an RFP in February 2015 to improve its rockfall hazard rating system. The contract would include an update to Montana’s GIS mapping system. The department wants the system to have capabilities that are compatible with future geotechnical risk-based assessment plans.

GIS in the First Quarter of 2015

In the three months of 2015, state and local governments have already released 70 RFPs and bids related to GIS. The split between state, county and city governments remains evenly split, just as in 2013 and 2014.

ExampleIn March 2015, Fairfax County in Virginia issued a bid to establish a Next Generation 911 (NG911) telephone system - an internet protocol-based system. The system will allow for digital information, such as video and text messages, to flow seamlessly from through public networks to the 911 network, and on to emergency responders. The solicitation includes GIS mapping that will allow responders to see data as more than statistics.

According to 2015 data in Onvia’s Project Center, solicitations are spread evenly geographically. The top states to release GIS related bids and RFPs have come from Virginia, followed by California, Florida and Texas. The Cities of Fairfax in Virginia, Fort Worth in Texas and Pueblo in Colorado represent the top municipalities. At the county level, Williamson and Tarrant counties in Texas issued the most proposals in the year’s first quarter.

What’s Ahead for GIS and Public Safety

Cities and towns, counties and states have published more than 809 budgets that include future projects on GIS and public safety support beginning work in the next five years. 770 of these budgets that include GIS projects are slated to begin in 2015. Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center data also shows that state and local governments are planning for continuous investments in GIS projects. In building your government sales pipeline, GIS and public safety funding will remain a staple in budgets from 2016 to 2019.

ExampleLeon County, which surrounds the City of Tallahassee in Florida, issued a five-year, $1.5 million solicitation in November 2014 to create a GIS base map. Along with county’s elevations and ground features, officials want additional oblique and satellite imagery to support public safety and property assessments. The project funding would remain at $298,500 each year of the contract.

Key Takeaways

For future opportunities, government vendors in this space will want to review city and town budgets for GIS mapping projects. Local governments have proposed or adopted 76% of budgets with GIS project funding, and 23% of city and town budgets have GIS funding.

In addition, GIS funding will remain constant, especially as local governments update their emergency response networks as IT continues to advance.

GIS isn't the only technology transforming city governments, learn about others here.