Despite the Town’s hesitation to use technology to its fullest such as streaming video of its meetings or a more useable on line system for agenda information, the Town has taken a step into the 21st Century. The Town has proudly announced the installation of—get ready for this—a GIS linked to an MTC PMS as well as to a CRW PMS not to mention the use of ESRI. What seems like gobbledygook to most of us, is clear as day to Town Engineer, Paul Nagengast and his engineering staff. Nagengast’s group has been steadily working, without a lot of fanfare, to make the changes in a number of areas that will provide both staff and citizens with better access to information.
The Town’s new GIS system is an integrated solution, which enables staff to quickly map information in order to perform spatial analysis or use a map to manage information and notifications. The system has specific map data layers such as zoning and geologic hazard data. For pavement management, the Town had previously had access to an online pavement management system which could track and analyze the condition of road networks and print out reports that help define and adjust maintenance treatments and budgets. However because of the complexity of these tabular reports, the Town continued to rely primarily on visual observations and resident complaints to determine which pavement to schedule for repair. Now they have a visual display. Town staff can now perform spatial analysis, allowing them to quickly create maps showing the extent of distressed streets and proposed pavement treatments.
Moreover, this new system also fulfills part of the long-promised overhaul of the on-line permitting process, which has been criticized as being hard to use and incomplete. As we understand it, the system will have current land information electronically searchable so that Town Planner can view which permits have been issued within a specified distance from subject site to assist with a permitting decision. We sure hope this will cut down on the arbitrariness for which the Planning Department was so famous under Hope Sullivan’s rule. Updating permit information and related data should go a long way toward achieving the goal of making permit tracking easier and more efficient. See here and here.