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January 27, 2010 > SACGIS agreement reviewed

SACGIS agreement reviewed

By Shavon Walker

The agreement between Union City and the Southern Alameda County GIS (SACGISA) Authority has come to an end. The original agreement was meant to address GIS (Geographic Information System) needs by collectively developing, operating and maintaining a GIS system and database for its member agencies - Fremont, Newark, Union City, Alameda County Water District and Union Sanitary District. Council authorized the City Manager to give notice of withdrawal from SACGISA if reduced membership, at a lower cost, is not possible.

In the nine years since SACGISA's creation, there have been many changes to the GIS system. Consequently, SACGISA no longer provides a useful service to the city and is no longer cost effective. Union City does not have its own GIS resources; this means the city must pay SACGISA, or another consultant, for modifications. As a result, Union City has been unable to contribute a great deal of data but pays a 20 percent share of the cost of the system. The SACGISA map, in turn, is missing Union City-specific data.

SACGISA is also about to upgrade its site. It is not possible to continue as a part of the group without participating in the upgrade. Annual membership dues, which average $34,145, do not cover such costs. The upgrade would cost the city between $45,000 and $70,000. Average annual expenditure for GIS services is $45,471 with an additional $128,250 for maps and other related services. The city may choose to continue its relationship with SACGISA and provide GIS data updates at no cost, while terminating its membership.

Since the city still needs GIS, a workgroup was created to find a solution. CityGIS was chosen since its product suits the city's needs. It will allow data to be managed by trained, non-GIS staff. Hardware or software installations are not required and it is used by Caltrans. Specific types of data can be made available to the public through the city's website while other information can be restricted to city staff only. More information can be added to CityGIS, such as redevelopment areas or special assessment districts, fire stations and fire plugs, notices of compliance letters, neighborhood preservation photographs, crime information and zoning and general plan data. The latter is frequently requested by the public.

Annual subscription to CityGIS is $33,588, or roughly $11,883 less than the average cost of SACGIS. It also has several benefits, including aerial imagery backdrops, TeleAtlas layers, associated owner information, associated property sales updates and associated tax maps for each property or parcel. Most of these features are updated either weekly or annually.

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