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August 8, 2022
2022 URISA Exemplary Systems in Government Award Winners Announced

The URISA Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) awards were first presented in 1981 to recognize outstanding achievement by government agencies in the use of geospatial information technology. This exemplary achievement is defined as the effective application of geospatial technologies and data that result in improved government service delivery and increased benefits to citizens. The award competition is international in nature and open to all public agencies at the local, regional, state/provincial and federal levels.

Nominations are made in one of two categories: Enterprise Systems which are used by multiple agencies, and Single Process Systems which are used by one agency.  Nominations are required to address specific award criteria associated with system design and implementation, organizational impact and use of resources to create the system. 

A volunteer ESIG Awards Committee is formed each year to handle the entry judging tasks and this year there were 14 people serving on the committee.  They were:  Dianne Haley (chair); Alice Wilson; Asher McNicol; Curtis Pulford; Eva Cancino; Ian Kidner; John Nerge; Julie Mikolajczyk; Kristin Johnston; LeiLani Paugh; Nicole Dogan; Patrick Baber; Rachel Parrinello (Associate Chair); and Chris George.  URISA extends its thanks to the committee members for the time and effort they have put into the judging of this year’s ESIG submissions.

In the first round of judging, all entries were independently reviewed by three assessors, and the highest scoring entries in each category then progressed to the second round of the competition where they were each reviewed by a further five assessors.  As a result, by the end of the competition each entry in the final round of judging had received eight independent scores, which determined the winning exemplary systems in each category and the close runners-up, which receive a distinguished system prize.  Accordingly, the final results of the 2022 ESIG Awards are:

​Single Process Systems

  • ​​Winner:  Franklin County (OH): “Franklin County Auditor’s Office Tax Incentive Hub”
    Submitted by: Matt Shade, GIS Manager, Franklin County ​Auditor’s Office, Columbus, Ohio
  • Distinguished System:  City of Lewisville, TX: “Lead Services”
    Submitted by: 
    Rafael Hernandez, GIS Technician, Lewisville, Texas

Enterprise Systems

  • Winner: Sussex County (DE): “The Sussex County – DelDOT Permit Tracker”
    Submitted by:  
    Megan Nehrbas, Senior GIS Manager, Sussex County, Delaware
  • Distinguished System: City of Plano TX: “ETRG Program Enterprise System”
    Submitted by: Kristina Deitz, GIS Analyst III, City of Plano, Texas 
  • Distinguished System: Los Angeles County: “Equity Explorer Tool”
    Submitted by:
     Kyle Ota, Special Services Assistant, Office of the CEO, Los Angeles County, California

Judges’ Comments on the Two Winning Entries

The following summaries of the two winning entries are taken directly from the judges’ comments on the respective entries.

Single Process Winner: Franklin County (Ohio) Auditor’s Office – Tax Incentive Hub

The Franklin County (Ohio) Auditor’s Office – Tax Incentive Hub is a first of its kind application in the country, providing transparency to stakeholders and creating value for its users.  This application provides a visual understanding of tax incentives to the public. The single site provides easily accessible information provided in various formats, in non-technical terms.

This is a new and innovative application, which makes it especially unique, as there are few similar Tax Incentive Hub projects putting GIS at the core.  The design is exemplary, for this reason.  The Franklin County team designed the concept, formulated the data needs, and came up with an interface that was easy for users to navigate.  The system went above and beyond in its design, configuring story maps, data downloads, dashboards, and surveys all into one easy to use HUB solution.  This group overcame technical design challenges with the assistance of Esri support.

The implementation process went through design sessions, form development, database integration and script development, creation and implementation of maps, web pages and dashboards, user Interface sessions, focus groups, and outreach such as news releases and public presentations.  The design process included some reworking and several iterations to create limits on fillable forms. 

The GIS team used a comprehensive development process to understand people, process and technology needs to make the application successful.  The level of coordination is what drove the system’s success and is a remarkable outreach effort.

The system has provided exceptional information access to citizens, local groups and government officials which enables greater transparency and service. It has increased the agency’s staff productivity, has reduced public records requests, and has made complex data easily discoverable.

A few judges’ comments:

  • Overall, I find this system to be exemplary for its local and statewide impact as a resource, research tool, and a baseline standard for other tax organizations to implement in their own organizations. There was considerable thought put into how the data was displayed and the user experience, which makes the tax incentive data more accessible and understandable to all audiences.
  • This is an excellent example of a GIS application enabling a government agency to provide better service.
  • Great application, thoroughly written and explained with examples.

Enterprise System Winner: Sussex County (Delaware) – DelDOT Permit Tracker

The Sussex County (Delaware) – DelDOT Permit Tracker is a custom GIS-based application that enables true interagency collaboration and creates a medium for communication and workflow between state/local government not seen before.  Designing a system to work with dynamic permit data and with inter-organizational teams is a major challenge.  The system Sussex County developed streamlines these processes and datasets effectively.  Designing this system not only met the project’s original purpose; it also became useful for multiple agencies and departments in unexpected ways.

One of the primary identified problems included unsafe situations because phases of new construction and development were not in sync. The system exposed noncompliant project data to multiple units, directing the staff efforts more efficiently. It led to new agreements across the organizations involved. It made communications across agencies more efficient and effective.  This project had a large impact on the organization because they did not have a current workflow in place that could meet the needs of the increase in construction projects, manual or automated.  This application implementation allowed them not only to significantly reduce staff time, but it also, very importantly, reduced the number of projects that were out of compliance.

Staff coordination of roles, workflows, and communication amongst multiple agencies were identified.  This solution provides all levels of workers access to the same data, thus, closing those communication gaps between DelDOT and County staff, including additional gaps which have since been identified.  By identifying and utilizing the correct stakeholders and subject matter experts this project identified which data to utilize in the dashboard, combining existing data sources and creating new datasets where needed. This design represents unusual and impressive inter-agency cooperation and reliance on each other.

It is remarkable for the system to have enough flexibility and responsiveness to grow with different dynamic datasets and new inputs, considering the described complexity of information.  Utilizing existing database systems with SQL views turned into dynamic GIS layers, hosted in a shared dashboard, is an elegant and smart design.  Especially impressive is the fact that no outside contractors were used; the work was done in-house with existing technology and a minimal budget.

A few judges’ comments:

  • I am very impressed by this implementation. This application took quite a bit of dedication and collaboration to implement that was no small feat.  It also could be used as an example for other agencies since there is no doubt others struggle with aligning data from different systems especially when it comes to multiple government agencies and permitting.
  • The fact that this project was completed using existing staff from several levels of government, with a thoughtful project plan and interagency collaboration, make this an excellent candidate for ESIG.
  • I find this exemplary! I love when simple solutions produce extraordinary value – as this does.  It has also generated tremendous interest from other departments/agencies. 

The accomplishments will be celebrated during GIS-Pro 2022.  In addition, each system may be highlighted in an upcoming “Excellence in GIS” URISA webinar series. To learn more about the awards and review the winning submissions, visit http://www.urisa.org/awards/exemplary-systems-in-government/. For details about GIS-Pro 2022, visit https://www.urisa.org/gis-pro

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