That's 622 square miles of streets, highways, alleys and bridges. 622 square miles of stop signs, traffic lights and school zones. 622 sqaure miles of water mains and sewer lines.
Back when the City didn't stretch more than three or four miles outside downtown (and that wasn't all that long ago), we kept track of all that information with meticulously hand-drawn maps, laid down with india ink on sheets of translucent paper. When a map had to be changed or updated – to show a new water main, for example – a mapmaker would carefully scrape the ink off the map and draw in the updates.
You can imagine what a job that would be today.
Fortunately, we've left most of that behind. Today, the information is data, and computers keep track of it.
That's where GIS comes in. We collect data from dozens of sources, ranging from street repair crews to orbiting satellites, and feed it into our computers. We organize that data into maps that can show the City from an almost infinite variety of viewpoints.
Does someone need to know the traffic flow in front of a school? We can provide that. A list of all the stop signs in town? We can provide that. All the stop signs installed since a certain date? We can provide that, too.
Who gets this information? Our number one customer is City Hall itself. For example, when the Public Works department wanted to inspect the guardrails on all the City-maintained bridges, it came to us for the map that would show where to find them.
We can also compare information from different sources to pinpoint needs and potential problems. For example, we can take a map of population growth data, electronically lay a map of the water system over it, and see in an instant where the City may need to plan new mains.