now. They could see this total picture of where the education is, where the labor force is, where the housing market is, " Dale Jabolonski, the department's chief information officer, said.

Takai wants to dig into the state's data using GIS, not just to put points on a map, but to "use this base of geographic information to actually do the kind of analytic work to actually do the kinds of things that you are doing in your agencies and departments today," she told the audience at the Beyond the Map forum.

That's the intention of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. The Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development has a massive collection of data. "In our case, we're trying to understand the entire health care landscape. All this information combined in business intelligence software and geographic information systems allows us to distribute [it] back to the public and understand what's really going on in that healthcare landscape for better decision making, " Mike Burns, GIS architect for the Office of Statewide Planning and Development, said of his agencies efforts to leverage geospatial information.

And perhaps the newest tool to provide Californians with geospatially referenced data is the new SchoolFinder Web site launched earlier this month. The site allows parents to easily find and compare schools side-by-side on data such as graduation rates and Academic Performance Index scores, available student support services, advanced placement courses and neighborhood demographic information in one place.

Takai remarked that this site is a logical evolution of the use of GIS and bringing information to residents over the Internet. "It's interesting that we're used to using the Web for things like buying consumer products, but we've never thought to use the Web as a way of getting to education information that perhaps has not been available to us before. "

"The state is very interested in being able to provide the accurate information around the different schools so that a parent can either compare schools within their current district or they can research schools in a district that perhaps they are thinking about moving toward," Takai continued "All of this is just so important in using the technology and using the power of the state and the technology the state provides in helping parents and educators to continually improve the education process in California."