How to convince local government to use web apps?

08-25-2020 08:16 AM
New Contributor III

I work for a civil engineering firm that handles a local municipality's engineering needs. They currently have a web app created to manage their MS4 network, but it is not utilized to the full potential. The municipality is required to map their MS4 network, but they are not using this data to drive other municipal decisions. My firm want to "sell" the municipality on the idea of using web maps for asset management, community planning, emergency services, and other projects - not as a mandated necessity, but as a means of departmental collaboration and decision making. I have looked into many different ArcGIS Solutions for Local Government, and it is exactly what we want to do for this municipality. However, I believe there is a disconnect with municipal leaders between creating the app because they have to and actually using it to make data driven decisions. 

I am asking if anyone has advice on how to get the municipality using these web apps? Why local governments are reluctant to use web-based applications? How to get municipalities on-board with the idea of using spatial data in decision making? What platforms are most effective (single app, hubs, dashboards, etc.)? Also, if anyone has some great examples of local governments utilizing ArcGIS Solutions and can share, that would be greatly appreciated! 

Thanks everyone!

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11 Replies
New Contributor III

In our resort city with a residential population of 25k and 11k buildings, our new GIS system more than paid for itself within the first month with what I called our "$500k Map."  


We're mostly within a regulated FEMA floodplain and were making application to the Community Rating System (CRS) program to obtain a communitywide discount for every flood insurance bill.  One of the CRS discount activities was accounting for open space (parks, conservation areas etc.) where development is restricted and calculating the ratio of open vs. developed land. 


Some deeded conservation lands and have triple credits. Creating this Open Space map allowed us to:

  • Calculate the individual acreage
  • Layer the different credits applicable to relevent parcels
  • Display the differing and sometimes multiple credits
  • Attach to each the qualifying documents
  • Provide the reviewers with real-time digital access


The credits resulting from this one map earned us a $500k community wide annual discount.  The entire series of credits earned a $3.5m annual discount.  This year, we made and even better Open Space map and along with other accumulated credits our annual CRS discount will increase to $5m. The initial three-year GIS lease was $90k. Hence GIS paying for itself within the first month.


The ancillary benefits from a public services aspect have been an added plus.

  • Spatially displaying for the public what documents are available for which properties and allowing them to access them 24/7 as attachments.
  • Identifying approved newspaper rack locations, with photos of each attached.
  • Erection and removal of temporary barricades.
  • Fluid inventory of all buildings (resulting in the building shadows now seen on various online mapping platforms such as Google, Apple etc.)
  • Event mapping (booth assignments, road closures, public safety positions etc.)
  • Unified street numbering feeds 911, building permits, planning.
  • Public parking
  • ADA parking identification
  • Detailed damage assessments to qualify for federal disaster recovery reimbursements
  • Cemetery plot data
  • Flood zone identification information
  • Old flood maps
  • New flood map impacts per structure
  • Historic structures identification
  • Ground elevations every 10 feet
  • Bicycle crash location analysis
  • Bicycle rack locations
  • Endangered species habitat areas
  • Political district boundaries
  • Zoning
  • Use of the Collector app to map just about anything in the field using cell phones & tablets.

Once you've got GIS capabilities, the list is limited only by your imagination. 


New Contributor III

Wow! This is a great example! Thank you for sharing! I will definitely send this along to our engineers and municipality as a way GIS can save time, money, and resources.

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