Information wants to be useful. (Also free and expensive, but this blog item is about the“useful” part.)
Geo St. Louis was originally created by the City’s Planning and Urban Design Agency as a website to share parcel information among the City’s various development agencies. It has become far more than that. Geo St. Louis represents a radical shift in how some public information is disseminated and displayed by the City.
Prior to Geo St. Louis, parcel information had to be requested from various departments on different floors of several buildings, and the information subsequently collated into a report. The initial goals of Geo St. Louis’s designers were to allow sharing of departmentalized data, accurately and quickly; and to display this information in a way that was easy to use. Geo St. Louis put all parcel information in one place and let the user make comparisons between data and graphic elements.
As other City departments realized the innovativeness of this approach, additional information was added, and the system expanded. According to its creator/wrangler, Tony Meyers, Geo St. Louis now houses “over 20 federal, state, and municipal data sets associated with the 134,000 parcels within the City of St. Louis. These include land and tax records, building information, permits, Census data, housing sales, and Citizen Service calls. In addition, the mapping portion of the website contains 40 layers of graphical information and the image library includes over 28,000 images.” Tony updates the system whenever new content becomes available.
This is a model, unmatched in the region, that other City agencies should study. You should just take it out for a spin.