Hamilton City Council (HCC) has reinvented their GIS profile as part of a major restructuring of their entire IT infrastructure. HCC migrated their GIS platform from Genamap to Esri’s ArcGIS solution, significantly cleaned up and upgraded their geodatabases and has increased access to HCC staff via web-based mapping. This initiative, undertaken in partnership with Eagle Technology, came in under budget and in line with HCC’s timetable. GIS is now seen as an enabling technology and will underpin operations and planning for a wide variety of City services in the years to come.
Challenge: repositioning ArcGIS as a strategic application
“Until recently,” says Chris Mardon, Senior Project Manager in the Phoenix Programme Office at HCC, “GIS was not regarded as a strategic application within the Council. The GIS team consisted of one specialist and only one ‘power user’. Our geo-data was limited in scope and coverage was incomplete. We relied on CAD applications and outsourcing to create specialised maps – for instance maps for the District Plan - and users had limited access to the technology.
“At the same time,” continues Mardon, “the Council was involved with a total re-engineering of their IT infrastructure. Called the Phoenix Programme, the initiative was designed to standardise Council enterprise applications, consolidate data within a centralised data warehouse and ensure that Council staff could access a ‘single version of the truth’ in respect to Council activities. HCC made the decision to significantly upgrade their GIS capabilities within the framework of Phoenix.”
Solution: Esri software and Eagle expertise
HCC had very specific requirements for their GIS initiative. “We were not just looking for a vendor to sell us software licenses,” explains Mardon. “We really needed a partner that would invest the time and energy required to help us raise awareness of GIS and how it could help us achieve our goals. From the outset we knew that timing would be a challenge. The vendor would have to slow down when we needed to accommodate internal activities and speed up when we needed to meet expectations and hit deadlines.
“In that regard we cannot speak highly enough of the staff at Eagle and the approach they have taken,” says Mardon. “We found that they were able to work across their organisation to give us what we need, when we needed it, and use their experience and foresight to fill in the blanks and guide us through some of the areas where we lacked internal knowledge.”
The first phase of HCC’s Phoenix initiative, called Transition, has resulted in the installation of ArcGIS Server for database development and maintenance, ArcGIS Desktop for applications in City Waters and City Planning and a significant upgrade to HCC’s geo-spatial databases. In addition, Eagle has helped HCC develop CityView, a browser-based GIS application that will provide access to HCC staff in all departments. “A noteworthy point to keep in mind,” says Mardon, “is that the Transition phase for GIS came in on time and under budget. In the overall context of the Phoenix Programme, this was a tremendous accomplishment and gave the GIS project a high-profile and a positive start.”
“CityView already provides access to the corporate GIS database across the HCC enterprise,” says Bonita Gestro, Eagle Technology’s Account Manager for HCC. “We developed CityView using Dekho, a desktop mapping application created by Esri Australia. The advantage of Dekho is that it is fully supported which means that improvements are always being delivered. The other advantage of CityView / Dekho is that non-specialists can use it for everyday mapping applications, queries and updates. Currently users can access six base maps with approximately 200 layers of information.”
Business Benefit: GIS as a strategic asset for success
“Now that we have all the tools in place – CityView, ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Desktop, and an initial set of applications – we can really start to move forward,” concludes Mardon. “We will be working on improving, adding to, and validating our spatial data, and continuing to promote GIS as a strategic application. We have made a good start but still have a long way to go. By involving Eagle as our technology partner we have reduced our risk, and have benefited from fresh ideas and Eagle’s proven capability and approach. Most importantly, GIS is now seen as a major contributor for HCC’s success and we are excited about the future.”
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