History of Grants Pass GIS

The City of Grants Pass was incorporated in 1887. The surveyor who first documented the city limits boundary used GIS but without the computers, calculators, satellites, and gps we have today. GIS is not a new technology. GIS is simply the documentation of the physical or spatial location of something, anything – a house, a mountain, or a star. Early humans recorded the locations of hunting grounds on the walls of caves and their own location just by being there and leaving their mark. An old photograph with names, dates, and locations written on the back - are GIS. The phone book, a birth certificate, an IP address - all GIS, they all describe a location.

In 1993 the City contracted with Woolpert of Dayton, Ohio to prepare the “Recommended Plan for the Grants Pass Integrated Information System”. The goal was to integrate the City’s financial management and geographical data into a seamless information system. Although the majority of the plan focused on the financial management system and development of an IT department to support it; GIS was identified as the integral centerpiece of the entire system.

GIS 1993 Plan Data Base Model

In response to the plan, the City purchased ESRI’s ArcView 3.0 in 1996 to act as a viewer for the data created and managed in AutoCAD. The city surveyor was the developer, editor, manager of, and trainer for the City’s geospatial data and systems.

By 2000, most of the community development staff were trained and using ArcView daily. The datasets were limited to utility locations, city limits, zoning, aerials, and tax parcels. Except for the addition of a Database Technician in 2008 and a couple upgrades to 3.3, GIS was stagnant for the next decade.

In January 2011, a GIS needs analysis was completed by Kevin Sato, Salt Lake, UT. Within months, the city put out an RFP for the Upgrade of City-Wide GIS. Salish Coast Sciences, LLC of Bellingham, WA was awarded the contract in 2012. Under the direction of Salish, the City:

  • Moved from ArcView 3.3 to ArcMap 10.0
  • Implemented ArcGIS for Server
  • Entered into an Enterprise License Agreement with ESRI
  • Migrated legacy data into the Local Government Information Model
  • Set up a versioned database structure for future enterprise editing
  • Created internal user groups and a GIS advisory board
  • Prioritized city-wide GIS projects
  • Created the City of Grants Pass GIS Master Plan
  • Reassigned the surveyor’s GIS specific workload to 2 dedicated GIS professionals
  • Trained employees from all departments in the use of the new GIS system

In July 2014, the City’s GIS division won the coveted ESRI Special Achievement in GIS award for their vision, leadership, hard work, and innovation in the use of Esri's GIS technology.

Today, we have a very robust GIS. Interestingly, the new system mirrors the 1996 database model and supports the interconnectedness of all departments and aspects of city business intersecting at GIS.


Grants Pass GIS Wins Special Achievement Award

The City of Grants Pass was chosen as one of the elite ESRI Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award winners from more than 300,000 Esri clients worldwide. Wendy Holohan, Gena Vincent and Eric Wade of the City’s Parks and Community Development Department were able to attend the awards ceremony and accept the award on the City’s behalf.