Mapping Progress: KY League of Cities Conference

by yourmapper on September 19, 2010

Last week we attended a state-wide municipal government conference and pitched our data mapping services to the decision makers in local government.  The Kentucky League of Cities conference brought together mayors, clerks, council members, and police from cities around the state, all looking to improve their cities.

KY League of Cities Conference 2010

Since governments are our main clients for mapping (though we map for private clients too), we have setup a sister company called GovMapper. The benefits are to reduce costs from Freedom of Information Act requests, reduce duplication of effort, increase government transparency, and inform and engage your citizens.

KLC Booth

Our KLC Booth

Assumptions and Education

The conference was a success for us, setting up not only a number of terrific city clients (which we will announce later), but giving us an education from our main client base and confirming some of our assumptions about their pain points.  Turns out that FOIA requests actually are a huge time waster that involve many staff members (secretary, legal, management, and technical) per request.  By putting the data online, one secretary can direct a citizen to the city website to find exactly what information they are looking for, in a visually engaging and understandable map.

The other thing we confirmed was that city governments are looking for ways to attract and keep visitors and local citizens on their website.  They want to be the one-stop shop for information about their city.  Our platform puts a map with their data directly on their site, and when people find our SEO optimized pages on yourmapper.com, we credit and redirect them back to the source, creating more visitors.

Lastly, we discovered that we are ahead of the curve, and there is a lot of educating we need to do.  For example, when we say that we map data for governments, most people in government assume we mean for internal and city planning use, so they think they already have maps.  And it’s true, they do usually have complex GIS systems for mapping and visualizing critical city data, like property parcels, crime beats, drainage and flooding areas, power grids, and fire districts.  But these maps are almost always for internal use only and do not translate well to the internet, if they are available at all.

We want to take other kinds of public information and make it truly public online, readily available, and easy to understand.  So as one of the first companies offering this service, we need to educate our government officials about that is new, different, and beneficial.  The good news is that most of the decision makers we talked to understood the benefits quickly, wanted to open their information to the public, and just needed an easy and affordable way to do so.  I hope we can help them out.

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