10 Jul CoCiGIS: An Indispensable Resource
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is one of the most important resources we have in city government. GIS is designed to capture, store, retrieve, analyze, manage and visualize all types of geographic and related information. For a city government, GIS enables us to manage city assets (utilities, streets, parks, etc.) and provide decision support in our daily operations and long-term strategic projects.
Even though GIS has been around since the late 1960s, it didn’t become a default tool for local governments until the mid-1990s. That’s when the City of Auburn and DeKalb County decided to work together to create a shared GIS resource. With the city and county governments already teaming up on other internal systems (i.e. police records management, core IT infrastructure, etc.), this collaboration was a natural extension of their growing partnership—one that’s turned out to be continuously beneficial.
In 1998, Auburn and DeKalb County formed a GIS alliance and called it County-City Geographic Information System, or CoCiGIS for short. The City of Butler and the City of Garrett joined the alliance shortly after that. This singular GIS data warehouse became a powerful community asset that serves as a cornerstone for decision-making and planning within each city and across the county. Each government entity determines what information to collect specific to their needs. By synchronizing data for the region, CoCiGIS delivers a single source of information for complete accuracy, increased efficiency and cost savings.
“GIS is indispensible. I can’t imagine how the City of Auburn would manage without it,” says Chris Schweitzer, General Manager, Auburn Essential Services and Auburn Electric. “It is a powerful tool that allows us to clearly see the assets we are managing. It helps us communicate and collaborate within our department, across organizational boundaries, and with the constituents and customers we serve. If a picture is worth a thousand words, GIS is worth a million.”
He says that the CoCiGIS partners all agree that GIS has also allowed the cities and county to be more effective.
“This GIS partnership gives us purchasing power and economies of scale that we don’t have individually,” Schweitzer says. “For example, we shared in the compilation of the original base maps—that partnership effort saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars. And our continued sharing in software, technology and data maintenance has helped to ensure we get the most value out of our investment. Working together just makes good business sense and helps us service our communities.”
Twenty years and counting
CoCiGIS is coming up on its 20th anniversary and the collaboration is stronger than ever. What began as a helpful data repository quickly transitioned into a powerful asset management tool allowing our county and city partners to operate more efficiently and effectively—both independently and together. And, after 20 years of fine-tuning, CoCiGIS is one of our most valuable resources in governing and serving our communities.