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Fall 2008

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URISA logo "Managing GIS"
A column from Members of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association

City of Plantation's GIS

By Ivette Reyes, GISP, GIS Manager, City of Plantation, Florida

The City of Plantation—with a size of 22 square miles, it is the sixth largest city in Broward County—is located in South Florida. The residential population is about 85,000.

PGIS logoThe need for GIS is present in every city, but money constraints can sometimes jeopardize acquiring and implementing a GIS system in an efficient manner. For the City of Plantation, achieving the optimal GIS was full of challenges.

Beginning in 1989, the city began a CAD/GIS initiative to improve and automate different city departmental services. Some of the goals of this initiative were to

  • Decrease operational costs.
  • Improve efficiency (current data files are distributed between departments, and looking for information was a time-consuming process).
  • Improve the quality of map products.
  • Avoid duplication of data.
  • Centralize data.
  • Facilitate the transfer of information between departments.

The second phase started in 2001 when the city acquired some software (not Esri's) for the purpose of mapping. However, that software's lack of performance generated frustration and dissatisfaction among end users.

In 2006, the city's GIS department was restructured, and a new system was implemented, initiating the third phase of the city's GIS. ArcGIS Desktop, ArcSDE, and ArcIMS were acquired; SQL replaced the Oracle database; and a mission statement was created:

Our Mission is to attain a higher level of efficiency by empowering our user community's decision making with the latest in geographic/spatial information.

A GIS logo was created to reinforce our commitment to the city and the users, and a new name was given to the GIS system—Plantation Geographic Information System (PGIS).

PGIS empowers our customers with the latest geographic data. It is an ArcIMS application available through the city's internal Web server. It offers 33 GIS layers, aerial photographs, and oblique imagery of the city. The application provides a full set of tools that allows the user to view, search, and retrieve geographic data in a simple, concise, and speedy way.

Some of the capabilities of PGIS are

  • It provides parcel and condo ownership information. The query tool allows the user to search for specific ownership data. The identify tool allows the user to see the attribute information. The condo layer shows ownership information per condo building.
  • It provides scanned images for engineering as-builts, utilities as-builts, plats, deeds, site data records (SDR), and public school floor plans. The identify tool and query tool allow users to search and view attribute information. The hyperlink tool opens the scanned document of the plat, SDR, engineering as-builts, utilities as-builts, deeds, and public school floor plans depending on the layer selected.
  • The buffer tool creates a buffer area, in feet, from a parcel selected. The user can export the results to an Excel table.
  • The print tool provides the user with the benefit of printing maps in letter size, portrait, or landscape.

Some of the benefits of the new system are

  • Centralization of data
  • Increased amount of available data
  • Capability of overlaying layers
  • Better standardized symbology and labels
  • Search engine
  • Measurement of distances and areas
  • Computing of GPS locations
  • Printing capability
  • Faster speed

The accessibility of the system to the users and the amount of data available have improved the view toward GIS. Serving the application through a Web server has decreased operational costs and increased productivity. Data centralization has eliminated maintenance issues and costs while increasing quality and accuracy of data. Also, it has facilitated the sharing of information and improved communication between departments. Empowering our users to print out maps has decreased the GIS department's map requests by 90 percent.

The excellent reviews received from the users have strengthened the trust of the decision makers to support future investments in the system. Some of the improvements planned for the next phase are to

  • Upgrade to ArcGIS Server.
  • Complete a disaster recovery application to track cleanup progress after a natural disaster.
  • Provide PGIS to the public.
  • Collect and maintain infrastructure assets.

Understanding the need for and benefits of GIS has been recognized by the city since the late 1980s. The city's GIS implementation from 19892006 was a long and difficult one, but our commitment to serve and provide better GIS information and services will certainly make it successful this time.

About the Author

Ivette Reyes, GISP, has been the GIS manager for the City of Plantation for the last two years. She has nine years of experience in the GIS field in both the public and private sectors.

More Information

For more information, contact Ivette Reyes, GISP, GIS manager, City of Plantation, Florida (e-mail:, tel.: 954-797-2657).

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