Small Agencies Benefit from GIS Assistance from Office of the Chief Information Officer

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When the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) begins its biannual statewide survey this spring to estimate the percentage of drivers wearing seatbelts, the agency will be using a little geospatial technology from the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) to help pinpoint where its seat belt observers can best watch traffic go by.

And if you’re looking for the nearest board-certified accountant to prepare your taxes, that information can be found right on a map on the Board of Accountancy’s web site, thanks to support from the OCIO.

Washington Traffic Safety Commission Board of Accountancy Washington State

State GIS Coordinator Joanne Markert, whose position lies in the OCIO, says that in addition to helping state agencies with large-scale Geographic Information Systems (GIS) initiatives, her office is available to help small agencies – like the WTSC and the Board of Accountancy – with GIS-based needs that serve their customers and the state.

The accountancy board, for instance, previously published a web-based CPA-finding service that was expressed in tabular format only. The new map-based feature serves two purposes by allowing people who are looking for board-certified CPAs to find one close by, and by helping new CPAs themselves see where others work as a way of guiding them to which areas that may be underserved by their profession. A future add-on might be to pinpoint where CPA schools are located, she said.

For the WTSC, a small state agency which doesn’t have GIS staff of its own, the OCIO was enlisted to use GIS tools to help identify the most effective locations for trained observers – often retired or off-duty law enforcement personnel - to watch passing traffic for seat belt use among both drivers and passengers.

The analysis incorporates traffic use data from the Washington Department of Transportation to show within a half-mile or so where those observers should be placed. The commission’s last report in 2016 showed an overall observation rate of 94.7 percent of seat belt use. Use has risen about 10 percent overall since passage of the state primary seat belt law in 2002.

Family of four wearing seat belts in passenger vehicle  

Markert says her office tries to assist small agencies with GIS whenever it can. More information about GIS in the state of Washington, with links to state GIS initiatives and resources, can be found on the Geospatial Program Office section of the OCIO web site.  The OCIO is a partner agency of Washington Technology Solutions (WaTech).