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Louisiana City Makes Election Data Available Through GIS

East Baton Rouge Parish has combined data from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office with its online maps to allow users to view precinct-by-precinct election breakdowns.

by Steve Hardy, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. / June 16, 2016

(TNS) — Amidst a push to make data more available to the public, East Baton Rouge Parish residents can now find expanded voting and land records online.

Wednesday, the city-parish’s information services department gave an update on various technological efforts from the past year and provided a look into future projects, including an updated emergency app.

The parish has combined data from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office with its own online maps to allow users to view precinct-by-precinct election breakdowns. The state has long reported the precinct breakdowns, but the parish has visualized the data, which shows, for example, blooms of support for Republican David Vitter around Central and the southeast of the parish in the last gubernatorial election in a parish that otherwise generally supported the victor, Democrat John Bel Edwards.

The public also can see which areas of town leaned toward Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the March Democratic primary or view the results of the Republican primary in which multiple candidates, including presumptive nominee Donald Trump, claimed support in various parts of the parish.

The maps also track local races, like for the Baker city council, as well as seats in the state Legislature.

While most of the data is for recent races, the parish has included a few historical votes, such as the 2012 presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, which drew a sharp divide along Florida Boulevard.

The parish also has integrated Central’s city records into the geographic information system, said GIS manager Warren Kron. It allows users to search for various land records, and Kron expects to see use from appraisers, the assessor’s office and public works employees.

“Real estate guys use this like crazy,” he remarked in an interview after his presentation to city-parish staff.

Land records for Baton Rouge, Baker and unincorporated areas of the parish were all previously entered into the GIS, and Kron hopes to finish later this year with the inclusion of Zachary’s data.

The parish also is preparing to launch a new smartphone app, which will allow the public to keep track of disasters. The Red Stick Ready app will be available during hurricanes, floods and winter storms as well as human disasters such as a dangerous tanker spill or active shooter, said Information Services Director Eric Romero.

The app will show road and school closures and disseminate information on where to pick up sandbags or find a Red Cross shelter.

Users can download the app now, but Romero cautioned that it still needs a final update. He hopes to have a finished project soon, perhaps as early as next week.

The final step will smooth out some issues with the app’s maps, which will show weather and traffic conditions.

The information services department also touched on a few other recent projects aimed at streamlining government services — such as partnering with Google’s traffic app Waze and developing real-time 911 tracking for police — and on efforts to make more information available to the public online, such as tax rolls and other items at Open Data BR and the city-parish’s annual budget.

©2016 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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