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07/14/2020
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What GIS can do for elections

Fourteen years after it started using geospatial information systems to draw its election maps, Maricopa County, Arizona, says there have been marked improvements in the accuracy of precinct and legislative district boundaries, as well as participation and confidence from voters. Since they started using GIS in 2006, Maricopa officials have found it much easier to draw maps, locate new polling places and audit voter files. “At the most fundamental level, GIS ensures voters get the right ballot,” said former Maricopa County election official Tammy Patrick. In 2020, more jurisdictions are using GIS in election administration, but it's still far from the norm, though Patrick said GIS can play a crucial role as more states shift to voting by mail. Benjamin Freed reports.


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Building a national address database starts with states

The holy grail of states' GIS work is the development of a national address database that would be both accurate and quick to update. To that end Nation States Geographic Information Council last week published a document encouraging states to adopt best practices surrounding the collection and sharing of address data. A national database, the group says, could bolster the efficacy of the United States’ 911 system, elections and other critical services. But funding remains an issue, said NSGIC programs director Jamie Chesser. "We’re hoping it could have a sustainable funding stream," she said. "It’s something that needs to be funded and sustained into perpetuity.” Colin Wood reports.


Houston weighs privacy concerns of EV adoption

Three months after Houston announced a climate plan dedicated to reaching a 100% electric non-emergency vehicle fleet by 2030, the city’s Office of Sustainability is turning to the private sector for help on how to deploy electric vehicle charging stations equitably and affordably. Through Aug. 7, the city is asking companies for solutions to several problems, including how to manage multiple vendor contracts for charging stations, the best practices to record and report charging station usage data and how to ensure that charging stations maintain user privacy. Ryan Johnston has details.


Blueprint for effective data-driven governance targets governors

The demand for data has spiked in recent months as governors seek real-time updates to make economic and public-health decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but levels of sophistication with data vary widely among states. To help governors improve their use of data in policymaking, the nonprofit group Results for America published the “Blueprint for Delivering Results in State Government," which it describes as a "soup to nuts" handbook for establishing strong data governance at the state level. “I think states have recognized they need to change the way they’re gathering data and that requires building additional data infrastructure,” said Results for America vice president Jed Herrmann. Colin has more.


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