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Interactive GIS-Based Web Site Brings People, Information Together for Employment Opportunities

Delaware Department of Labor Maps a Difference in People's Lives

In Delaware, getting information on employment opportunities and the labor market just got a whole lot easier thanks to interactive mapping on the Web. The Delaware Department of Labor (DOL) constructed a Web site that is breaking ground for the automation, integration, and access to social services information. People looking for employment now have a new tool at their disposal in the form of an interactive, GIS-based Web site called Career Directions, located at www.delawareworks.com or www.oolmi.net.

"Government agencies are raising the bar in efficiently serving people," says Jack Dangermond, president, Esri. "The ability to bring agencies, information, and people together is a fundamental exercise better executed using GIS technology. The innovation of the Delaware Department of Labor takes this integration strategy one step further by using the Web and GIS to open up access to information. It's a real testament to their vision and leadership."

screen shot of web page showing Wilmington, Delaware, area
Wilmington detail shows child care, transportation, and some Businesses.

"After extensive research and talking to a number of users already doing good work with GIS, we decided to adopt ArcView GIS with Dynamap 2000 data to geocode Businesses," says Lyn Anderson, GIS analyst, Delaware Department of Labor. "We then looked at using GIS on the Web to help people find the right information to help them get into the workplace. We wanted to bring transportation data and child care data together, two fundamental barriers we wanted to help people overcome."

The Delaware Department of Labor works to connect people to jobs, related resources, monetary benefits, workplace protections, and labor market information to promote financial independence, workplace justice, and a strong economy. The department is made up of four divisions and three offices in the State of Delaware, supporting the employment-related needs of nearly 400,000 workers and 20,000 Businesses.

The Web site allows users to enter their home or work address to generate a customized map containing educational institutions, child care centers, Businesses, and training facilities that are within a three-mile or smaller radius of the given address. The Web-based mapping system will also provide users detailed point-to-point directions, along with bus routes and bus stop locations, giving Web surfers an easy and convenient method to help them find their way to the Businesses and services that are available within the State of Delaware. The Web site provides a better way for people to get the information they need, and it's a rich information set. At present, nearly 70 percent of employers with more than four employees in Delaware are included in the database.

In a press release issued by the Delaware Department of Labor, Governor Thomas R. Carper said, "During my State of the State address two weeks ago, I said we would launch several new initiatives in State government this year that use technology to better serve our residents. Career Directions does just that, and many more will follow in 2000. Nearly 45 percent of Delawareans have access to the Internet in their homes—one of the highest rates in the nation. Every one of our public libraries, school classrooms, and the Department of Labor's innovative career centers are wired for Internet access. By the next new year, Delawareans, with just a few clicks, will be able to tap into State government services like never before. By harnessing technology, we can provide our customers with service—like Career Directions—that's second to none in America."

The Web site includes information from the Department of Education, Delaware Health and Social Services, Delaware Economic Development Office, Department of Transportation, and The Family & Workplace Connection.

In the past, similar information was distributed using paper-based methods, with DOL employees combing through paper files, transportation logs, and notebooks. Today, not only can Delaware citizens go online to locate information, but DOL employees use the Web site to better provide information to clients. Approximately 125 employees are trained and can use the Web site to serve clients.

"We are training the providers of this information in government offices to be more efficient so that they can better serve clients that come in for assistance," says Anderson. "We now have one central location where a government employee can find information about a client's residence, a Business site, the route to get there, child care available in the area, bus routes to take a customer to the site, and more."

"As one of the most innovative tools to be implemented by a state government, we anticipate Career Directions to be known and used by every job seeker and Business in the State of Delaware," says James McFadden, chief of Delaware DOL's Office of Occupational and Labor Market Information. The GIS database was built using ArcView GIS, while the Web site was constructed by DOL and Esri staff using MapObjects, , and RouteMAP IMS.

"We worked with some great development staff at Esri who understood not only the technical aspects of the project, but also the geography and mapping in the Web site," says Anderson. "We knew what we wanted, and after doing extensive research I sketched out what we were looking for and we began from there."

In the future, DOL also sees the Web site as a tool for Businesses. Companies will be able to better provide information to prospective employees. "Our office is very excited about the economic development opportunities ahead using this information and Web site," adds Anderson. "Career Directions is the second most frequently visited Web page on our internal site. We want to improve the site, the information provided, and make it a terrific tool for DOL employees, individual clients on the Web, and Businesses as well."

For more information, contact Lyn Anderson, GIS analyst, Delaware Department of Labor (tel.: 302-761-8064, e-mail: lyanderson@state.de.us).

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