Pinellas County, Florida, has implemented a successful, innovative smart community governance model. Thanks to technological initiatives and innovations to deliver smart sustainable services, the county is better supporting its staff, municipalities, and the public. Because of its successful implementation, Esri nominated Pinellas County for the GCN dig IT 2016 Cloud and Infrastructure award.
GCN supports the public sector IT managers by providing technology assessments, recommendations, and case studies. For 28 years, the organization has showcased general excellence in government information technology by presenting the GCN dig IT (Discovery and Innovation in Government IT) awards. This year GCN is recognizing transformative technology that is truly reinventing government.
The Pinellas County Enterprise GIS Steering Committee played the central role in transforming the county’s fragmented data and mapping system into a hub of ready-to-use insights, apps, and maps. Pinellas County calls its hub WebGIS. Built on Esri technology, WebGIS combines enterprise and cloud services that address the county’s needs for sharing information.
The committee’s members routinely collaborate with other cities and towns within the county to create internal configurable apps that drive operational efficiencies across county jurisdictions. The system’s scalable data architecture makes it easy for agencies and 24 municipalities to deploy apps and maps on a single platform.
Bryan Zumwalt, the county’s enterprise GIS manager, works with both internal county customers and municipalities to get new web maps and apps up and running quickly. For example, he and his team created a mobile data collection app that emergency management staff use to gather critical data after a storm for damage assessment. Using Esri templates, the team has produced more than 50 focused apps, such as mobile data collection apps.
Pinellas County has also embraced the open data concept that has been a driver for self-service GIS. In just weeks, the GIS team stood up an open data portal and published 126 data layers from their Enterprise GIS database. Now anyone can access and map datasets to monitor local crime activity, obtain zoning information, research tax parcels and property valuation information, and more. Users can access public data from any smart device. The county’s emergency management group was instrumental in creating a vision for the “Know Your Zone” public application. It shows residents where the flood zones are located, and, in the event of a hurricane shows residents evacuation details and the location of nearby shelters
The Flood Service Center app includes flood zone areas mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and is used as the base for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). By using the County’s Flood Service application, homeowners can see the level of flood risk that has been assigned to their properties. FEMA has taken note of the county’s GIS applications and has given the county a better community rating. The county estimates that the app will save property owners $5.3 million on flood insurance premiums.
Because Pinellas County applies geospatial technology to its government model, its citizens have access to powerful information that they can use to make more informed decisions.