GeoWorld November 2012

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TIP #1 Identify Potential Partners for Collaboration The first step to collaborating with GIS colleagues is to find them. Many GIS professionals manage or work in their own GIS unit with little interaction with nearby GIS professionals. Just like any new relationship, start slowly. Make connections through professional organizations such as a local Urban and Regional Information Systems chapter, a larger municipality or common acquaintances. Most likely, the data or help individuals seek are closer than they realize. When FGCG founders first started talking about building a collaborative group, they developed a list of GIS managers from each city in the county. It turns out they had already met many of these people. That was the easy part. The difficult task was trying to determine who to invite from cities the founders didn't know as well as people from cities that don't have their own GIS. In such cases, the group contacted director-level staff at these cities in the IT, Community Development/Planning and Tax departments. These people know their staff and forwarded the founders' messages to the right people. During this process, it may be difficult to contact all key staff from all cities in the desired area. Don't A map shows all cities comprising the Fulton GIS Collaboration Group membership as well as surrounding counties within the metro Atlanta region. be overly concerned with this initially. As the group begins to form, word will spread, and GIS users from non-participating agencies will contact participants. Although organizations may not be managing a GIS operation of their own, they often have an ongoing interest or partnership that's GIS-related. TIP #2 Fulton GIS Collaboration Group members collaborate at one of its meetings. Sell the Benefits of Collaboration After an initial contact list is developed, it's time to sell your colleagues on the idea of collaboration. To many, collaboration is a fancy word that conjures up memories of late nights in 5th grade struggling to complete a group project—alone. Clearly, the most important benefit of GIS collaboration across jurisdictions is the elimination of redundant work. There's no need for a county to capture the same information as one of its cities, and vice versa. This wastes resources and keeps the county and city from the truly valuable work: producing high-quality analysis and intuitive mapping products. The FGCG is founded on the principle that each municipality is its own expert. Any base data developed by staff at the city of Johns Creek, for example, are treated by other cities and Fulton County as the most up-to-date, accurate and authoritative source of information on Johns Creek available. There's no need for any other jurisdiction to spend resources capturing and maintaining data that Johns Creek are responsible Government Special Issue for maintaining. Local ownership of data leads to better data maintenance by staff and a sense of responsibility when sharing such data with others. Local ownership of data also equips the county with the ability to serve accurate data countywide that have been maintained locally. This gives partners and consumers a singular place to obtain the best-quality data for information that's usually maintained at the county level, such as land records and street centerlines. Users of Web applications built by the county or city also benefit. If a citizen performs a query in a Web application built by the county, the result should be the same as performing this query in a Web application built by any of the cities using the data. Without collaboration and data sharing, identical queries might produce different results and confuse users. N O V E M B E R 2 O 1 2 / W W W . G E O P L A C E . C O M 15

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