Effective planning for the District of Columbia requires the best information available about the city and the capacity to analyze and communicate it efficiently. Our in-house Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Information Technology (IT) staff members provide mapping, spatial information and analysis, and planning-related GIS services to the Office of Planning (OP), other District agencies, citizens and a variety of organizations. This group plays a leadership role in GIS within DC government and works closely with the Census State Data Center and others conducting GIS activities inside and outside of DC government. It also manages overall information technology (IT) support for OP.
The Office of Planning’s in-house Geographic Information Systems staff members are a key source of high-quality map products for the Office, other agencies, and the public. A variety of ready-made and custom map products are available, together with a variety of on-line tools for interactive mapping and analysis.
The Office of Planning’s in-house Geographic Information Systems staff develops and maintains a number of key planning-related data sets for the District, working closely with the Office of Planning’s Census State Data Center, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer’s Geographic Information Systems team, and others. These include Census boundaries like Tracts, Block Groups, and Blocks; land use data, neighborhood and neighborhood cluster data; Historic Districts and other historic resource information; and a variety of data sets describing planning-related initiatives.
The Office of Planning’s in-house Geographic Information Systems staff has long been a lead agency for analysis and presentation of spatial information for the District. Theis group provides analyses for every division within the Office of Planning to help guide planning and preservation decisions. It also works closely with a broad range of other DC agencies to make spatial information available and to put it in context, fostering discussion and analysis for a wide variety of purposes.
OP has long been a leader in the use of Geographic Information Systems technology in DC. For more than twenty years OP has combined leading-edge tools and professional planning expertise to produce high-quality maps and analysis. OP has more active GIS users than any other District agency. All of our planners have GIS tools at their computer workstations, and dozens have received formal GIS training.
Like the rest of DC Government, OP has chosen GIS software from ESRI as our main tools for mapping and spatial analysis. Our office was the first to develop custom extensions to the standard ArcMap software to improve staff productivity and to help our agency manage the large number of maps we produce each week. These extensions include buttons for making standard maps and for browsing a professionally-managed catalog of spatial data, improved navigation tools and tools for integrating oblique aerial photographs, and tracking tools that log and index every map we make. Together with partners in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, we have helped distribute these productivity tools to all DC government agencies.
We also recognize that sometimes the simplest tools are the best tools. Our Office has also been the first in DC Government to develop “Rich Internet Application” tools like Property Quest and DC Walkscape. These are web sites that are attractive and extremely easy to use, yet deliver key information and sophisticated analyses to everyone.
OP works closely with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), which has provided long-term support to help build and grow the GIS capabilities within the Office of Planning. OCTO has developed interactive mapping tools including the DC Guide. We have been pleased to contribute to that effort, and our high-quality cartographic products complement those online tools.
OP staff at all levels continue to work closely with their counterparts at National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), our sister organization within the federal government.
Demographic information from the Census Bureau and other sources are key to understanding the various places in DC. We work hand-in-hand with the staff of the State Data Center (SDC), part of the Long Range Planning Division, to help make that information available to everyone.
The mission of the State Data Center (SDC) is to provide easy and efficient access to US Census Bureau data through a network of affiliate agencies in the District. The DC Public Library is an affiliate charged with providing historical census information in hard copy and electronic formats.
DC Government’s principal technology GIS partner is Environmental Systems Resources Institute (ESRI). They make the baseline GIS software that we rely on, including ArcView GIS, SDE, and ArcIMS. We also work closely with Google, using a variety of their spatial technologies as well.
The District of Columbia Government has also licensed an archive of detailed oblique aerial images of DC from Pictometry International. Our license allows us to use those images in our products. Others outside of DC government may wish to contact them directly to license individual images for their own purposes.