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FCW : January 2014
Q What opportunities do you see for innovation in government around geospatial data? GIS and mapping data are playing a huge part in the open data and startup communities. We see a lot of successful startup companies that look to openly available gov- ernment data to create new self- service apps and civic engagement tools, and a large percent of the time a large piece of these applications involves a map. So, letting out GIS data in an open format is stimulating a lot of new interfaces or supplements to government that the public has been waiting for. At the state level, we are seeing more of a trend of open GIS data driving collaboration between depart- ments, between di erent levels of government, not-for-pro ts, and private sector groups. Federal open government websites are following similar patterns. Many of the APIs that federal agencies are releasing are being combined with GIS data in what become very useful problem-solving solutions. Q How can government do a better job of supporting industry experts who are driving innovation? First is not second-guessing what the public may want in the form of open data. Let the various startups, researchers and not-for-pro ts de ne what is and is not a meaningful data set. Governments need to make it easy for the public to nd exactly where that data is, as a lot of people still try and nd data through the hunt-and-peck method. Map services allow developers and analysts to have up-to-the-minute in- formation that they can simply take and embed into an app or website. Finally, government needs to provide forums to discuss ideas and work ows for these apps. Innovative ap- proaches to solving problems are critical to helping move ev- eryone forward together. Government owes it to the public to provide transparency into the problems it's trying to solve and the services it wants to deliver. Q What can agencies do to foster more innovative work by their own developers? While it's important to recognize the need to open up data to the public, we need to recognize the long-standing problem of collaboration between cities, cities and states, and federal and state agencies. Working from the same data and context through open data is really signi cant in reducing costs and improving collaboration. Looking inward we need to foster the same repertoire with our peers as we are attempting with the public. What's important to the public holds true for improved internal discussions. Q In what ways can CIOs and other government leaders do more to leverage GIS as a strategic resource? A Foremost is for CIOs to re-engage with the GIS community in developing their open government strategy. e demand and need for mapping and geoanalytic tools have already been identi ed as a major requirement in successful innova- tion and collaboration engagements. Although map data is being let out by the GIS community, it is oftentimes buried on the GIS page behind the departmental title. It needs to be elevated as a major part of the overall agency and govern- ment web site, so it's much easier to nd. Q How do you see the GIS industry evolving to meet the demands for government innovation? We've already changed the way we deliver the technology, data and geospatial tools. We've become more of a platform and we are delivering more ways to use GIS functionality in the software and business intelligence tools we use every day. e GIS profession will remain a critical part of government operations. What is changing is the introduction of loca- tion analytics and location-aware applications to disciplines that did not think about location rst. Government is al- ready taking advantage of cloud-based tools such as ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Portal to open up their data, and that's driving an explosion of app development, research and col- laboration. But there's more work to do in moving more and more GIS data out discipline by discipline that will bene t government and citizens alike. A A A A GIS: The Gateway to Innovation and Collaboration Sponsored Content Christopher Thomas, Director, Government Markets, Esri For more information, visit: esri.com/gisinnovation