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Hawaii Government's Version of Google Maps Gives Greater Access to Public Data

The new geoplatform can help make government agencies more efficient, saving tax dollars and time.

(TNS) -- Maps identifying everything from the locations of homeless shelters to ahupuaa boundaries are now available online to the public thanks to a partnership between the state Office of Planning and the Office of Enterprise Technology Serv­ices.

The Geospatial Data Portal, a sort of Hawaii government version of Google Maps, gives the public greater access to information in map form.

The state partnered with Esri, a software provider that specializes in geographic information systems, to implement the new software. Esri is based in Redlands, Calif., and is the leading software provider on geographic information systems, according to the planning office’s news release.

Gov. David Ige recently emphasized the importance of technology.

“Our state is applying recent GIS advancements to the improvement of programs and services,” he said. “We recognize that the state’s challenges are often complex with no easy answers, but we believe in the potential of the innovation of our state employees.”

According to National Geographic, GIS is a computer system used for “capturing, storing, checking and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface,” allowing people “to more easily see, analyze, and understand patterns and relationships.”

Applications on smartphones are familiar examples of GIS, including Apple Maps, Google Maps, DaBus and Waze. Lyft and Uber also utilize GIS technology to track positions of passengers, drivers and destinations.

The use of GIS by state governments is becoming more common. Colorado released a geospatial portal last month. Michigan recently announced a contract with Esri to transfer imagery data to digital cloud storage, according to State Scoop.

Todd Nacapuy, chief information officer of the ETS office, said the enterprise license agreement the state has made with Esri will foster wider use of GIS and help save money. “The GIS program is a state success story,” he said.

Keith DeMello, senior communications manager of the ETS office, said the state agencies that use GIS technology the most are the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Health.

DeMello also mentioned other agencies that rely on GIS, such as the Department of Transportation; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism; and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

The Office of Planning calls the software “critical to more than 150 state GIS data and system users across a dozen state departments that develop and maintain a wide variety of data, maps and applications — many of which are available to the public and/or relied upon by state personnel.”

DeMello said

“The geoportal provides access to the state’s data for anyone interested in viewing or using it, including third-party developers and open data coders,” he said.

Some of the data categories on the website include land use, parcels and zoning, historic maps and census information. Other features include a geospatial application presenting the governor’s housing and homelessness initiatives, as well as a vaccination locator for clinics and pharmacies on Kauai.

The new geoportal can be accessed at

©2017 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.