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Commentary: New County-State Collaboration Yields Benefits

“It may seem simple, but the collaboration effort and sharing of imagery services is huge,” writes senior IT analyst Ben Palacio. “This will reduce the number of duplicate efforts being made by various counties statewide.”

I recently co-developed a custom .NET Core application to replace a legacy system that Placer County Department of Public Works (DPW) was using to analyze traffic collisions within Placer County. This is no major accomplishment in this era of constant technology growth. However, there are countless features to this application that make it unique.

First, an integration between Placer County and a state agency, the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Second, an integration with Esri/ArcGIS mapping technology. And third, new high-resolution imagery in ArcGIS provided by the California Department of Technology (CDT), through the GIS Community of Practice.

The dynamic integration with CHP and sharing of imagery by CDT have made this application extremely interesting. The goal is to provide a more streamlined process for the Placer County DPW when submitting applications to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for the Highway Safety Improvement Program. The biggest change, which should considerably help Placer County staff, is the integration between the CHP and Placer County.

Previously, the transfer of records between CHP and Placer County was handled manually and entered into a legacy system. With the new process, we dynamically pull new records nightly from CHP into the database.

(I have to break here and mention that the CHP Information Technology team was especially helpful throughout the entire process to provide support for our application development. I look forward to a great partnership with CHP and feel confident in their process, application and development teams, and look forward to enhancing the application moving forward as things change and progress.)

With the integration of Esri mapping technology, we were able to develop a process that allows the DPW to search for specific areas of concern and map results separately from the entire data set. This provides very dynamic and visual results for analysis. And with the new imagery layer shared by the CDT, the county department will also be able to analyze intersections and visually see other obstructions or safety concerns — to get an actual “picture” of the collision environment and traffic flows of an intersection, for example.

Using this new mapping integration, in future development we will also enable output of collision diagrams to empower Caltrans to better analyze applications for the roadway safety grant program. These collision diagrams aim to display the entire collision, including all parties’ directions of travel and more.

Using this mapping technology, users will also be able to directly view data from the database and see specific details on the map in a pop-up detail window. This reduces the amount of clicking around to different applications to get the whole story on the screen.

I’d like to back up a bit and direct focus back to CDT. It may seem simple, but the collaboration effort and sharing of imagery services is huge. This will reduce the number of duplicate efforts being made by various counties statewide. Implementations like the collision application from Placer County are exactly what the CDT GIS team needs to know about to apply a good list of supporting use cases that would continue to drive this type of collaboration in the future.

Collaboration efforts to get the high-resolution imagery are astronomically beneficial to all local governments and will reduce costs — and, moving forward, possibly provide better quality, higher-resolution imagery that some agencies are unable to budget for. The result is that rural areas will benefit from higher-quality imagery to make more informed business decisions in their local areas of governance. To put in simple terms, there are exponential benefits!

In a closing note, it should be said that this integration of systems was not a simple out-of-the-box solution. There was a significant amount of custom development to support the result to the GIS Esri solution.
Benjamin Palacio is a Senior IT Analyst on the ESSG-Enterprise Solutions Team in the Placer County Information Technology Department and is a CSAC-credentialed IT Executive. The views expressed here are his own. He may be reached at