Posted in New thinking, Opinion

A Community Geographic Information Utility Strategy

From the responses to my previous CIU blog, I offer some clarification and a strategic direction.

pickCGIUlayerThe concept of a ‘community information utility’ (CIU) is very generic and subject to various interpretations. I suggest we add the descriptor ‘GEOGRAPHIC’ to avoid confusion with other utilities — like electricity, water, etc. — thus, CGIU.

The key is to provide our community access to the best available information about our geography — our land, people and social infrastructure.

To go forward, I propose three steps.

STEP ONE
Re-visit the implementation and status of what has happened over the last ten years with CIU in Sault Ste. Marie, and investigate other examples elsewhere (or similar concepts).

STEP TWO
Explore non-profits and other delivery options for a CGIU in our region including, for example, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, NS Community College, and the Valley Regional Enterprise Network. What is important is strong citizen involvement.

STEP THREE
Re-visit the CLICK Project (this was a geographic information project funded under the SMART communities fund) to elicit lessons learned.

In summary, what is happening elsewhere, what potential organizations exist locally that could handle CGIU, and how can we avoid previous mistakes in the region?
It is apparent to me that the same CGIU ingredients exist as they did  ten years ago, but fundamental technologies have advanced:  access to high-speed Internet; better GIS tools for the public; a ubiquitous social network; and, a recognition of the need to empower citizens in rural areas with high-quality geographic information for more informed, decision making.

I look forward to your comments and improvements.

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