ArcNews Online

Spring 2006
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NACo Helps Counties Model and Forecast with GIS

On a daily basis, county governments are producing some of the highest quality data in the United States. This information not only supports the internal systems that run the counties but also provides great benefit to local, state, and federal partners by aiding them in accomplishing their missions. Technology is evolving to a level where such cross-jurisdictional collaboration is possible. On the policy side, it is encouraging to see that federal initiatives, such as the Geospatial One-Stop, are promoting and fostering information sharing at all levels of government.

The National Association of Counties (NACo)—the national organization that represents county governments in the United States—ensures that the nation's 3,066 counties are heard and understood in the White House and the halls of Congress. NACo's membership totals more than 2,000 counties, representing more than 80 percent of the nation's population.

NACo's GIS Subcommittee consists of elected officials, GIS practitioners, information technology professionals, surveyors, and many others sharing an interest in GIS and related technology issues. Counties have realized the benefits of GIS not only from a technology standpoint but also as a communication vehicle, both internally within multiple departments and externally with the constituents that are supported by NACo. The integration of information breaks down departmental barriers, brings together the intelligence of experts, and presents a new perspective that allows key policy decisions to be made using the full spectrum of information at the disposal of county officials.

County officials have recognized that the ability to forecast the potential results of choices has given new insight into how their decisions align with existing and future priorities. In a sense, county officials can now "see" the future.

NACo has the expertise to help counties understand GIS and other cutting-edge geospatial technologies and how they can be used to make county governments operate efficiently and effectively. NACo has partnered with the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology to provide GIS expertise and support to NACo members.

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