August 1, 2006 By Government Technology
The county introduced an online voter information Web site during the 1990s that listed polling locations and offered a static map to that location when the voter entered his or her address. In 2000, the county implemented ESRI's ArcIMS, which empowered IT staff to transform the Web site into a fully automated utility.
ArcIMS enables programmers to build scalable Web applications with user-friendly, interactive GIS viewing functions that can be customized based on information the user enters.
"Now when citizens type in their addresses, not only do they have an interactive map, they can pan and zoom; it shows where they live and where their voting location is. They can even download their voter information pamphlet if they lose it," said Mike Cohen, GIS team leader of the San Bernardino County Information Services Department.
Cohen said in every major election, 30,000 to 50,000 voters use the site, which offers information voters previously would have had to call the county to receive.
"It saves a tremendous amount of effort and phone calls that would otherwise have to be made to the Registrar of Voters," Cohen said.
"We've had a lot of e-mails from registered voters saying they were about to give up on election day, but at the last minute they went on the site and got the data they needed -- got their pamphlet that they lost, and as a result, they were able to get out and vote. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that as many people get out and vote as possible."
The site also lists other districts that affect the address entered by the user -- the water district, trash pickup, various legislative districts and so on.
"Every one of the districts is hyperlinked to a map showing the boundary of the particular district they're interested in," Cohen said.
"The site's hyperlinked map is also useful for prospective businesses," said Rick Pourroy, lead GIS programmer of the San Bernardino County Information Services Department.
"If somebody is putting in a business, they can click on where the business is going to go and see what districts affect them."
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