Growing village looks to GIS

The village of Woodridge, just outside of Chicago, is grappling with its

future use of geographic information systems — technology that's becoming

common in larger government enterprises but that is still something of a

stretch in smaller municipalities.

Woodridge has a population of just less than 31,000, but it is expected

to grow to 44,000 over the next decade. The Illinois village has used GIS

in its engineering department for the past five years, but usage has not

developed much beyond that.

However, with increasing demands for better services from residents,

and with little chance that revenues will increase accordingly, village

officials are hoping that more expansive use of GIS will help introduce

efficiencies throughout all government departments.

"What we need to do, being smaller and having fewer resources than many

other municipalities, is to leverage existing resources and make sure we

have proper data sharing agreements with county and state governments,"

said Robert Bahan, assistant village administrator for Woodridge. "We are

more challenged in looking for efficiencies already out there, and making

sure the data we do have is in good shape."

The system that finally will be installed should provide a central database

that all users will be able to access and update. A welcome requirement

for that, Bahan said, will be the standardization of the hodgepodge of databases

scattered throughout the government.

SD-I, a Chicago-based information technology consulting company, is

assessing what Woodridge has in place and what needs to be developed. Then

SD-I will formulate a phased implementation plan.

SD-I has done similar implementations for other municipalities, said

James Dodge, a senior consultant for the company, but most have been much

bigger than Woodridge. However, Dodge expects that projects the size of

Woodridge's will become more commonplace as demands on municipalities grow.

The saving grace, he added, is that the cost of GIS has fallen to the

point where towns the size of Woodridge can finally afford it.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be

reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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