Bureau of Development Services
Fri, 13 May 2022

Expanding the Reach of GIS with VertiGIS Studio 

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Using VertiGIS Studio has allowed the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) to provide sophisticated GIS solutions to BDS knowledge workers without any need for specific GIS backgrounds or skillset.”  

– Jake Brown, GIS Coordinator for the Bureau of Development Services at the City of Portland 

The City of Portland and their Bureau of Development Services (BDS) rely on GIS technology to carry out many of their essential operations such as enhancing permit-entry processes and managing Airbnb rental registration applications. We recently spoke to Jake Brown, GIS Coordinator for the Bureau of Development Services at the City of Portland, to discuss the positive impact that choosing VertiGIS Studio as a GIS solution has had on the city.  

Could you introduce the City of Portland’s GIS department and explain how you are using GIS technology?  

[JB] GIS in the City of Portland is structured as a hub and spoke service system. At the hub, the Corporate GIS program (CGIS) provides overall GIS system administration, expertise in collaborative services, and consultation to City Bureaus (spokes).  

PortlandMaps.com is the City’s public mapping website where residents can access much of the City’s GIS data. Many of the City of Portland’s datasets are edited using VertiGIS Studio workflows and published using PortlandMaps. The website is a roll-your-own implementation of Esri’s 3.x JavaScript API. PortlandMaps has an ArcGIS for Enterprise implementation that serves as a walled-garden for City employees where they can access map layers, tools and reports, all secured using single sign-on authentication. 

The City of Portland’s public PortlandMaps website

Could you introduce the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) GIS department and explain its role at the City of Portland? 

[JB] The Bureau of Development Services is one of 29 different Bureaus and Offices at the City of Portland. BDS is responsible for implementing Portland’s Building and Zoning codes and facilitating the construction permitting process that includes review processes from several other City Bureaus. Each City Bureau GIS team provides primary business functions to their staff specific to Bureau responsibilities established in the City Charter and in many cases, stewardship of different City enterprise datasets. The BDS GIS team was created in 2014, and currently has a staff of 3. 

How were your operations carried out prior to adopting VertiGIS Studio as a GIS solution?  

[JB] Before VertiGIS Studio was implemented at BDS, the Bureau relied on ArcMap installations on users’ personal machines and custom add-ins maintained by the City CGIS team. Training a broad base of infrequent users on ArcMap was inefficient and proved to be untenable. Underpowered local computer hardware hampered the GIS experience for many user groups. 

Many BDS business processes relied on individual users being trained on carrying out complex edit sequences consistently across multiple applications. Failure in implementing these protocols consistently led to data integrity issues. 

What impact has the transition to VertiGIS Studio had on your operations? 

[JB] Using VertiGIS Studio has allowed BDS to provide sophisticated GIS solutions to BDS knowledge workers without any need for specific GIS backgrounds or skillset. The use of these tools has increased expectations for GIS tools across the Bureau and expanded our menu of capabilities. 

Our strategy is to move away from ArcMap and ArcEngine solutions to ArcGIS server. BDS had several datasets that need editing and VertiGIS Studio was identified as a best-in-class solution for structuring the editing of these GIS datasets. These datasets include address points, building footprints, land use cases, and georeferenced documents. 

What is your primary use case for VertiGIS Studio Technology? What improvements have you seen within the City of Portland and BDS since implementing VertiGIS Studio as a GIS solution?  

[JB] Our primary use of VertiGIS Studio is for building internal tools. VertiGIS Studio offers us sophisticated toolsets that can be created without having to code. We can leverage the full power of our ArcGIS Server and Portal and focus on encapsulating business logic into workflows. Configuring VertiGIS Studio applications has reduced custom-coding and made business processes smoother with quicker onboarding and training times for new users. 

What are some examples of applications you have built with VertiGIS Studio Technology?  

[JB] One application that we have is our Building Edit App, which uses VertiGIS Studio Web technology. The BDS GIS team maintains the City’s enterprise building footprint dataset. The data life cycle is tied to permit data, and as new construction permits are issued and demolition permits are finalized, the Building Edit App holds an edit queue. Building footprint data is then published to a central database that feeds the PortlandMaps cache basemap. 

Do you have any plans for implementing VertiGIS Studio technology in new ways in the future? 

[JB] As new updates for VertiGIS Studio come out, we evaluate how we can use these new capabilities to advance our applications. For example, we plan to use polygon feature editing functionalities to further configure our Building Edit App.  

Want to learn more about how customers are using VertiGIS Studio products? Click the button below to learn how VertiGIS Studio technology is being used around the world to create innovate solutions to complex problems.  

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