What is GIS?

GIS stands for Geographic Information System.  GIS is more than houses, streets, geography, and maps. GIS lets you visualize “what if” questions, analyze and interpret demographic, geographic, and geological data to uncover relationships, patterns, inevitabilities, obligations, encroachments, violations, trends, and shifts in population and development.  GIS supports the possibility of establishing a well-informed strategic direction.

The industry has stated that over 80% of government decisions have a geographic component.  Who does what, when, and where?  GIS can provide valuable information to answer the following types of questions:

  • Where should we concentrate our economic development efforts?
  • What are the best routes for emergency evacuations?
  • Where should we concentrate law enforcement efforts?
  • What properties were destroyed by fire?
    • Where are the flood zones? Earthquake faults? Protected habitats?
    • Where is my polling location based upon my address; and what ballot applies to me?
    • Where should we build county facilities to deliver services to our citizens?

This is just a small sample of questions that GIS can address.   GIS supports the enlightened governance of San Bernardino County, benefiting our citizens and resources.  GIS maintains critical layers such as the parcel basemap, street network, and aerial imagery, which are used to create dynamic maps.

GIS supports more efficient and accurate planning decisions as it positively impacts the incorporation of GIS methodology in daily operations of the public/private sectors.  GIS has improved the communication, collaboration, and decision making in all organizations.

GIS supports situational/operational awareness by providing the ability to map and analyze all types of hazards.   Assessing, validating and defending against threats are the key mission objectives of safety and protective agencies.  By combining incident data with critical infrastructure, population densities, and other community values, vulnerabilities can be observed, modeled, and better understood. This is achieved by using spatial analytical tools, resulting in effective mitigation and risk based contingency planning.

GIS provides a standards-based platform for the management of data. It allows the mash-up of data from different sources using the lowest common denominator-location. Spatially storing and maintaining data provides an effective method for transforming intelligence into useful information displayed visually on maps.

Maps are developed with high-value static data, like critical infrastructure, imagery, hazards, etc., and then can be integrated with dynamic event data, such as sensors, cameras, traffic, incidents, etc., to represent the current situation.   These result in officials being armed with the comprehensive situational awareness needed to make better decisions, to understand the big picture, and rapidly disseminate information to the appropriate first responder(s).

GIS in Government

There are many opportunities to utilize GIS in government.  Evaluating census data, providing public notifications, revenue collection, economic development, and homeland security are but a few of the necessary services a government must provide which are made more effective through the use of a GIS.

The GIS Division of Department of Innovation and Technology is committed to help San Bernardino County serve its stakeholders in the most effective way possible.  One way we continue to meet that commitment is through exploring and implementing GIS solutions that provide the information necessary to meet the requirements of today, while proactively seeking out the technology and methods that will be essential to solve the problems of the future.