Sacramento, Calif. -- As a state that commonly sets national trends, California can't afford to lag behind the technology curve. Yet the Golden State is besieged by annual budget crises and political stalemates that thwart innovation. This morning in Sacramento, Calif., leaders from the public and private sector gathered at the Conference on California's Future to discuss how GIS can help officials work around the problems crippling the state.

To successfully integrate comprehensive GIS solutions across state agencies, an enterprise GIS strategy, coupled with strong executive leadership, was deemed California's best hope for dismantling state IT silos and facilitating cross-agency data sharing. Also vital to the mission is getting the public to better understand the role GIS can play in the state's success.

"Consider ways to expand beyond the power-user base," said John Young, former CIO of the CIA and current director of enterprise solutions for ESRI. "Many organizations have now moved [GIS] into the mainstream, especially in those business areas where geography is important."

Moving away from serving only the hardcore GIS user base and toward an enterprise model, according to Young, means agencies need to focus on quality, timeliness, efficiency and community in their geospatial efforts. Young cited Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and his StateStat system as a model California should consider emulating.

Young also cautioned that enterprise technology is something fundamentally different than the siloed approaches of the past. He said recognizing all perspectives as legitimate and building a strong business case for enterprise GIS is paramount.

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Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.