How Los Angeles uses maps to help the city run more smoothly


The idea of using geographic information systems (GIS) isn't entirely new in the smart cities environment. But the way the city of Los Angeles went about collecting the 500 or so kinds of map data it has and turning it into an accessible and useful tool to improve the efficiency of city department operations just might be an idea other cities would want to consider.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is very big on using data and technology to make the city run smoothly. And the GIS-based GeoHub is his plan to enhance LA's efficiency, transparency and citizen engagement, according to an article in American City & County.

"On its own, data gives us important insights into how our city works, and now we are putting open data to work. The GeoHub provides real-time access to all the data we need in one convenient place, allowing us to improve everything from pothole repair to 311 call times, make smarter urban planning decisions, and make it easier for emergency responders to get to their next location. This is back to basics at its best."

The city worked with GIS software technology company Esri to bring together the map data from the city's 20 departments. Essentially, city employees -- firemen, sanitation workers, utility employees and more -- get a detailed view of what's going on in the city's streets whether it's traffic or road obstruction information, where local buildings are in the inspection process.

And the system is open: citizens, businesses and other non-government organizations are welcome to use it, too.

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Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.