Study maps councils’ GIS use

Councils across Australia have participated in a landmark study that will provide a much-needed understanding of the ways local governments use intelligent mapping technology. 

The research is a collaborative industry initiative conducted by Geographic Information System (GIS) specialists, Esri Australia, and the spatial sector’s professional representative body, the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI).

Esri Australia Managing Director Brett Bundock said that the 2013 ‘GIS in Local Government Benchmark Study’ addressed the current lack of industry research into how the technology is being implemented by the nation’s councils.

“Local government is the largest user of GIS technology in an industry worth more than $2.1 billion in Australia,” Mr Bundock said.

“Our councils have been responsible for some of the most pioneering applications of the technology seen globally – such as during the recent Queensland floods and the widespread bushfire crises across the country’s southern states.

“Beyond these large-scale events, GIS technology is used daily by councils across Australia to manage asset maintenance; aid development planning, economic management and service delivery; and coordinate education campaigns.

“We are even seeing some councils use the technology to build intuitive smartphone apps – where they can have instant two-way conversations with members of the public about community and maintenance issues.”

Mr Bundock said the industry was aware that the role of GIS technology in local government was increasing as communities expected greater access to council information in the easy-to-use, visual format of digital maps.

“Despite this, there is a significant lack of readily accessible information on how councils are using the technology,” he said.

“This keystone piece of research will provide a clear insight into how intelligent mapping is used within local government, as well as highlight what the emerging trends in GIS deployment are for this sector.

“Each council that has participated in the Study will receive a detailed report that will enable them to benchmark their current practices against other councils,” Mr Bundock said.

“For many, this report will provide the evidence required to further develop and expand GIS technology strategies into the future.”

SSSI President Gary Maguire said that the organisation was excited about the insights the survey would deliver.

“We’ve thrown our full support behind what is an incredibly valuable piece of research for local governments and the spatial industry as a whole,” Mr Maguire said.

“Of particular interest will be how local governments are using geospatial professionals to gather and map information. The skills of these people are increasingly important in the area of natural disaster response, as we have seen in recent times.”

The results of the 2013 ‘GIS in Local Government Benchmark Study’ will be released in April.