"GIS" - What is it, and what it does. Will the benefit outweigh the "Big Brother" risk?

The City Council has refused to discuss the “GIS Mapping” issue publicly and there’s no reason for it.

“GIS” is short for “Geographical Information System” and it is used every day by governments and businesses to visualize and corelate data points that are otherwise difficult to manage or understand.

What did I do? I took a shallow dive into a deep pool to help give our community some context about other cities and how they have implemented this technology for their communities.

What did I find? Mostly good – but some risks. Let’s hope our present city council stays between the lanes and doesn’t go down a potential dark rabbit hole.

The Risk? “Big Brother” style loss of privacy. One example of the risk to our property is demonstrated in the video: linking individual property to its owner, to google maps, to google street view, to the property owner’s address and even their property tax records. It could get worse from there if GIS mapping is not controlled and limited. How eash

The Benefit? The city, planners, residents, businesses, and developers will all be on the same page when it comes to city areas, public infrastructure, mobility questions and even topographical features – plus a lot more.

You should watch the video…just sayin’.

The Bottom Line? Without guidelines and controls in place, all public records are fair game. The public should be involved in this decision and how it will be implemented and the City should be very sensitive to the security and privacy needs of the community.

Why? Because GIS records multiple data points that is reduced to location data. That data is reported as mapping that could lead to lifestyle tracking within our community.

How? Privacy loss. Imagine clicking a button on a city website to track a person’s home, check out their car and condition of their home, and then go straight to their county tax records. It worried me. Are you ok with it?

Recommendation? When implementing GIS mapping for Simonton, the City should establish policies and guidelines to protect the us – the voting public – from the “Big Brother” elements that could arise in the future.