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Spring 2010
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Enterprise GIS Streamlines Geographic Information in Medellín, Colombia

Highlights

  • Field crews use ArcPad to collect and validate data on-site.
  • ArcGIS Server Image extension integrates large amounts of raster imagery for analysis.
  • Accurate data collection is a strategic part of the success that the municipality has achieved.

Founded in 1616 by Spaniard Francisco de Herrera Campuzano, the Municipio de Medellín is situated in a valley in the northern part of the Andes Mountains. Its economy was initially based on gold mining and agriculture. As the second largest city in Colombia, Medellín now has a well-established manufacturing base supported by a population in excess of 2.5 million.

Medellín's planning department first began to use GIS technology more than two decades ago. Since that time, the use of GIS has steadily expanded within the municipality to include most other departments, including finance, public works, environment, social welfare, education, and transport and traffic.

see enlargement   see enlargement
Many government departments in Medellín use the ArcGIS Server Image extension, which allows the municipality to centralize geospatial information and provide internal and external services both within the government and to the city's public Internet. This includes orthophotos of the city and satellite imagery of the surrounding area.

"Our municipality has achieved many benefits through the use of GIS," says William Restrepo, information technology official at the municipality. "Key among them is the opportunity to centralize our geographic information in a standard platform using our enterprise server so that exactly the same information is available to all departments for all their projects."

Nevertheless, before the establishment of its successful enterprise GIS platform, there were some growing pains, chief among them the lack of administrative coordination, leading to a duplication of data that increased costs in data acquisition and maintenance for the municipality. It also increased the potential to provide conflicting information to the residents of Medellín as a consequence of maintaining multiple data sources.

According to Restrepo, "We conducted a survey and found that each of the departments within Medellín used a different system to record and store its geographic data."

It was then that the municipality decided to minimize data redundancy in its expanding use of GIS. It centralized its information by designing, building, and implementing an enterprise geodatabase. The database contains information that has been consolidated in a single enterprise data framework, which is easily accessed and used by the entire city. Each department within the municipality is responsible for the maintenance of its own data, making it both the information leader and the conservator for information specific to its area of expertise.

To achieve and maintain that goal, Medellín currently has more than 100 licenses for ArcGIS products, and its GIS applications continue to grow in number.

Today, accurate data collection is a strategic part of the success that the municipality has enjoyed in expanding its use of GIS technology. Field crews are using ArcPad to collect and validate data on-site, particularly those working in the cadastre department. This has greatly expedited the data collection process and improved data accuracy.

Many government departments in Medellín use the ArcGIS Server Image extension to take advantage of the significant amount of raster imagery that the municipality collects for image analysis and integration with its GIS. This includes urban and rural orthophotos of the city, satellite imagery of the surrounding area, and urban and rural orthophotos of the Aburrá Valley. The image server technology allows the municipality to centralize this information and provide internal and external services both within the government and to the city's public Internet, with accessibility depending on the information provided and its level of confidentiality.

Restrepo comments, "Prior to the implementation of our enterprise GIS, there was geographic information chaos in the municipality."

More Information

For more information, contact William Restrepo, information technology official, Municipio de Medellín (e-mail: william.restrepo@medellin.gov.co, tel.: 574-385-5699).

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