land parcel graphics, aerial photography, property ownership data. We take care of all the data management on all this base map stuff and keep that updated as part of a subscription."

Open System

Rather than relying on any single big GIS vendor, the application's core consists of software built by the company itself.

"We are not an Intergraph, Autodesk or ESRI platform," Stautzenbach said. "We are an open GIS system using a common vocabulary for all map files."

As CityGIS matured, the company brought greater functionality to the application. First came full map navigation through the browser interface offering full dynamic zooming, map panning, map views that highlight a specific portion of the map currently displayed, and extensive query capabilities.

After that came markup tools that turned the application into a collaborative tool, allowing users to grab any portion of a map, mark it up and e-mail it to colleagues so they can add their contribution and send it on.

CityGIS5 includes a transaction engine that lets clients create and maintain geo-data via their browser interface. Using the company's ThemeActive layers, a department can create, edit, maintain and import map-based data, such as addresses, trees, signs, improvement projects, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System reporting and parcel notes.

"This is especially useful for a lot of the point layer stuff government clients want to track and maintain on the map," noted Stautzenbach. "The list of subjects a government agency might want to incorporate on the map gets very long. Specific users in that agency can edit and maintain that data right through our application, rather than having to outsource it or develop in-house GIS skill sets to provide the data in bulk.

"Every agency does projects," he continued. "Our ThemeActive project improvement layer allows them to step into the CityGIS5 application, identify where a project is, and start to track and maintain everything related to that project through their GIS system."

Because CityGIS is based on open application program interfaces, clients have worked with Digital Map Products to create whole workflow-automation environments. However, for a smaller city or agency, it's often a big step forward to simply access a lot of basic project information through the map, such as documents, photos or project files.

Affordable Alternative

Westminster, Calif., was one of the company's first government clients. "Since we are a smaller city and we don't have enough money to have our own GIS department, it's a good tool," said Rodi Almenbralo, a city civil engineer who oversees the engineering portion of Westminster's system, which is mainly used for property information and accessing county parcel maps. The company regularly updates most of this data, as well as the aerial photography, as part of the city's subscription, but Almenbralo said it allows for customization as well.

"It's like a GIS system because you can customize it to your own city by putting your own layers and data on it. If you take the cost into consideration, it is a lot cheaper than having your own GIS department," he said. "If a city wants GIS but doesn't want to spend all the money required to start a GIS department, CityGIS is a good thing to look into."

Blake Harris  |  Contributing Editor