GIS systems have had to evolve in step with their technology foundations. For government, this evolution is painful, but ultimately necessary.
In 2015, Adobe indicated it would be moving away from its workhouse application development tools Flash and Flex, declaring HTML5 “the Web platform of the future across all devices.”
All this left St. Charles County, Mo., in a pickle. The county’s mapping system was built with Esri tools on a soon-to-be antiquated Flex infrastructure.
Esri officials say St. Charles’ move puts it in line with a trend that has been playing out across the GIS landscape since Adobe signaled the shift.
With about 385,000 people, St. Charles is Missouri's third-most populous county and includes many of the northern suburbs of St. Louis. The county’s new mapping tools give those residents a range of new options for tapping into GIS data.
The site draws from the county’s other recent GIS initiative, a newly launched Geospatial Open Data Portal. The portal opens up diverse downloadable data sets, available for free as either spreadsheets or as computerized mapping files called shapefiles, or Keyhole Markup Language (KML) files.
Even with the recent enhancements, the GIS team said it would like to continue adding new data into its mapping service. “Because we are situated between two rivers, we are prone to flooding, and we think people would like to know where the levees are and where the levee districts are,” Duewell said.
While the team is eager to pile on the new information, they haven’t rushed ahead. The priority for now is to ensure they are putting out a product that users will accept.
“We had a map service that was already being used, that was already accepted and well ingrained in county policies and operating procedures. We had lots of internal and external users who were going to be impacted,” Duewell said.
He said he would also like something more mobile-friendly. “We know the real estate agents want to use it on their phones and so we are working on that next,” he said. “Right now, it works if you call it up on your phone, but it isn’t necessarily smooth. We want it to be optimized for the different platforms.”