The city’s Geographic Information System (GIS) is an integral part of city operations at “nearly every level,” said Jason Canady, director of Public Works at a meeting of the city council Wednesday, Sept. 18. Canady presented a resolution to council members authorizing city manager Aaron Cubic to contract with Timmons Group to conduct a comprehensive GIS needs analysis and master plan.
Approved by unanimous vote, the resolution addresses the need to complete an item prioritized by the council during strategic planning through the fiscal year 2020 budget process.
“We all supported this during our strategic planning,” said council member Valerie Lovelace before presenting the motion to approve the resolution. A unanimous vote of approval resulted.
Canady explained the history and background of the city’s current system, dating back to 1993, and the need to assess the city’s current use of the system, staffing levels, and any specific upgrades required.
“(GIS) literally underpins everything we do,” said Canady. “Many of us can’t go a day without using it.”
Currently the city’s GIS supports all city department activities, including data creation, data management, enterprise ArcSDE geodatabases, GIS software support, and web mapping applications that support field mobility.
Canady said that now was a perfect time for the needs assessment to be completed, because the department recently lost two employees to transfer to other departments, and funds are available to cover the costs of the contract with Timmons.
“It’s a really good time to step back and take a look at where our GIS needs to be. We can look for what needs to happen, not just what has happened,” Canady said.
The assessment may determine a need for filling the empty position in the department, or it may determine current staffing levels are sufficient, to be supplemented with contract work for major projects, he said.
In July, the city sent out a request for proposals, which were reviewed by a team of internal evaluators from Parks and Community Development, Public Safety, and Public Works. Timmons Group emerged as the preferred company.
“They are by and far the best firm,” said Canady. “They really were able to convey in their response that they really knew what Grants Pass was all about,” he said.
The overall contract was approved for $63,840, including a contingency that sets aside $4,800 for any potential unseen costs, which cannot be used without city approval.
Council member Barry Eames remarked that such a system would have been useful to him during his time working in real estate. Canady replied that the public has free access to all of the city’s GIS maps through the city website.
Council member Dennis Roler inquired about the availability of the final assessment in time for the Council’s next strategic planning session in early 2020. Canady said the final assessment will not completed by that time, but that specific findings will be available as they occur to assist the city in planning ahead.