Top 4 Challenges in Government for Digital Transformation in GIS

June 23, 2021

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This article brought to you by Nearmap.

The GIS professional faces many challenges, especially as governments continue to embrace a digitized world. Whether it's gathering and sharing accurate data, deploying the most up-to-date software, or improving cross-department collaboration, access to the right tools can accelerate GIS transformation and help government entities build the smart cities of tomorrow.

Solutions in Tech

Digital transformation is vast, complex, often groundbreaking, and always necessary. Whether you’re a multi-billion-dollar organization or a government department or agency, evolving your processes to address your challenges is vital if you wish to succeed.

And government teams — GIS teams, in particular — have significant challenges. Overseeing multiple software applications that need to share data, keeping up-to-date on the latest software releases, maintaining better communication with residents — the list goes on.

So, how do advances in GIS technology support digital transformation in the government sector? Nearmap looked at the challenges of their GIS customers and helped them improve workflows using its platform. 

Challenge 1: Procurement and Budgeting

Budgets are complicated. Procurement even more so. GIS teams are responsible for assets, tools, and systems that are shared with cross-functional teams, and their outputs are usually on behalf of others. This makes for convoluted procurement processes, which can prevent government teams from moving forward with much needed technologies.

“Keeping GIS data accurate and up to date is difficult with one annual aerial capture, but Nearmap has changed that. They offer a proactive survey program which allows us to keep our GIS datasets as recent as possible so we can keep pace with rapid growth” -  Shane Burnham, GIS Analyst, The City of Carmel, IN

Aerial imagery is essential to government departments. When the truth on the ground forms the foundations of the future, fidelity is not just important: it’s vital. Many GIS teams need two or three flyovers a year simply to remain current with development changes. However, most simply don’t have the budget to procure bespoke flyovers. In the face of procurement challenges, they have to make do with outdated flyovers supplemented with low-resolution satellite imagery instead of the up-to-date high-resolution geospatial data they need.

Nearmap provides a sub-3” ground sampling distance (GSD) per pixel that delivers imagery clear enough to count the tiles on someone’s roof when calculating roof pitch. Further, Nearmap captures locations up to three times per year — covering 700 urban and regional areas — so GIS teams no longer have to worry about finding budget for bespoke flights when up-to-date information is required. 

Challenge 2: Gathering Accurate Data

GIS professionals deal with vast quantities of geospatial data —especially when you need to analyze everything from emergency routes to stormwater runoff. But data is only useful when it’s good data: sufficient, accurate, timely, current, and — ideally — comparable.

Correcting inaccurate data costs time, resources, and money — three things most GIS teams are in short supply of. Adopting technologies that digitally transform data collection allows you to level-up the information you work with. The more comprehensive the data, the more accurate, agile, and informed your projects, developments, and analysis will be.

Nearmap thrives on data as much as you do, which is why they strive to capture as much information as we can every time they fly. They continually survey the regions that matter most to you, capturing sufficient, accurate, timely, current, and comparable data. This enables GIS professionals to detect changes more often, in just a couple of clicks, with instant access to the Nearmap catalog of current and historical imagery, georeferenced to show you truth over time. 

“High-resolution aerial content from Nearmap gives us a better view of our assets in the field and allows us to understand how variables like new development or road maintenance are impacting the conditions of those assets” – Wade Allsup, Information Systems Specialist, Yucaipa Valley Water District

Challenge 3: Improving Internal Communications

GIS professionals are at the pulse of every government organization, deriving data and insights, and creating web applications for government departments. Every piece of data GIS teams generate, every insight they glean, and every report they publish tells a story that enables someone in another department to perform more effectively.

Aerial imagery plays a significant role in this storytelling for many sectors. The tight alignment between the two means that GIS professionals from all government sectors — small, local teams to national agencies — use Nearmap imagery to create detailed base layer maps that integrate directly into their GIS, CAD, and open-source mapping platforms.

An informed team is a cohesive team. Miscommunication results in prolonged projects and duplicated work. Digital technologies that make it easier to leverage data internally ensure everyone remains on the same page throughout.

Challenge 4: Public Communication Portals 

The most important stakeholder in government is the general public. Residents want to know what’s happening in their communities surrounding publicly funded government initiatives.

Citizens want to know about government plans to tackle zoning or areas of new development; about emergency routes and road closures; updates to land use and land classification; and information on construction delays and events. They also want to feel confident that their county holds their correct parcel information permitting and taxation purposes. However, the way this information is collated would often be unintelligible and, frankly, dull to the average person. 

The raw data GIS analysts work with isn’t appropriate. How you present your story is as important as the story itself if you want people to understand and be interested in what you have to say.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and never is this truer than when sharing geospatial information with everyday people. Nearmap’s high-resolution vertical imagery allows you to bring cities to life.

"As a local government GIS Manager, my goal is to always provide the highest quality and most up-to-date authoritative information. My team and I strive to have a single source of data so that all users – internal and external – have consistent access to our communication tools and platforms.” – Lauri Sohl, Civic Analytics/GIS Manager, City of Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Transform your GIS workflows – download the ebook.

Nearmap for Government

The government sector has come a long way in adopting new processes and technologies, but it remains a slow journey. The need for change, however, is accelerating and digital transformation is a necessity, not a luxury.

More government departments than ever are utilizing GIS data and aerial imagery to achieve a level of insight and intelligence they simply cannot get from ground level. Assessment, utilities, AEC, transportation, public works, public safety — every sector is becoming more reliant on technology to get the job done, GIS in disaster management is expected to hit a global market size of $9.4 billion by 2030, and government teams across the world are investing in GIS solutions for homeland security, aerospace, and military applications.

Nearmap fuels digital transformation in government entities — traditionally a conservative sector when it comes to embracing new processes — by giving their teams access to high-resolution, up-to-date, contextual geospatial intelligence. 

Founded in Australia in 2007, Nearmap is one of the ten largest aerial survey companies in the world by annual data collection volume and is publicly listed in the ASX 200. For more information, visit


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