Measuring Public Sector Geospatial Program Maturity

In 2020, PSD launched the third annual Geospatial Maturity Index in an effort to help public sector organizations measure their GIS departments and program maturity amongst their peers. Data was gathered from 90 public sector organizations in Canada, United States, and Australia.

The survey is organized into three sections reflecting the core competencies of a GIS program:

  • Readiness – The capability to establish and sustain a GIS program with funding and staff capacity as well as buy-in from senior management and council.
  • Implementation – The availability of tools, processes, and data to support robust GIS programming.
  • Impact – The benefits that the GIS program has yielded for both the organization and the public.

Through the 88-question survey, participants showcased the innovative ways they use GIS to better serve the public and improve internal processes—including the use of GIS in public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020 GMI Average Scores









2020 Top-Performing GIS Programs

1 (-)City of Calgary1001+Single-tier municipalityAB96.30%
2 (*)City of Irvine1001+OtherCA93.12%
3 (+3)District of North Vancouver501-1000Single-tier municipalityBC92.59%
4 (+5)City of Burnaby1001+Single-tier municipalityBC92.06%
5 (+11)King County GIS Center1001+Upper-tier municipalityWA91.01%
6 (+1)Strathcona County1001+Single-tier municipalityAB89.95%
7 (-2)District of Kitimat201-500Single-tier municipalityBC89.42%
7 (-4)City of Leduc501-1000Lower-tier municipalityAB89.42%
9 (-1)City of Winnipeg1001+Single-tier municipalityMB88.89%
10 (-)City of Mississauga1001+Lower-tier municipalityON85.71%
10 (+1)County of Newell51-200Single-tier municipalityAB85.71%
12 (+14)City of Edmonton1001+Single-tier municipalityAB84.66%
12 (+3)Halifax Regional Municipality1001+Single-tier municipalityNS84.66%
12 (+5)Ville de Montréal1001+Upper-tier municipalityQC84.66%
15 (+32)City of Grande Prairie501-1000Provincial/State/Federal Governmental OrganizationAB83.60%
15 (+16)City of Longview501-1000Single-tier municipalityTX83.60%
17 (-2)Grey County1-50Upper-tier municipalityON83.07%
18 (+2)Durham Region1001+Upper-tier municipalityON82.54%
19 (*)City of Round Rock1001+Single-tier municipalityTX82.01%
20 (+2)Municipality of Chester51-200Single-tier municipalityNS80.95%
21 (*)Miami-Dade County501-1000Upper-tier municipalityFL80.42%
22 (-20)Toronto Police Service1001+Law Enforcement/Police ServiceON78.31%
22 (*)City of Seattle1001+Single-tier municipalityWA78.31%
24 (*)City of Waterloo501-1000Lower-tier municipalityON77.78%
25 (+6)Region of Peel1001+Upper-tier municipalityON76.19%

* (+#) ranks increased, (-#) ranks decreased, (-) same rank as 2019, (*) new participant

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Top Performing Organizations

1. Calgary, AB

Ranking: 1st  |  Score: 96.30%

The City of Calgary’s Geospatial Business Solutions (GBS) Division continues to push the limits of what GIS programs can be and how they can support and enhance government services. In 2020, Calgary ranked first in both the implementation and impact sections of the GMI maturity assessment and eighth in the readiness section. The outputs of the GBS division in terms of data analysis, mapping services, dashboard generation, and technical support are astounding. The capacity of the team is so advanced, they can offer services on a fee recovery basis to external organizations. During the pandemic, Geospatial Business Solutions continues to provide robust GIS support to the Calgary Emergency Management Centre (CEMA).

Provided by the City of Calgary — “The City of Calgary is extremely proud to be recognized again in 2020 by PSD as the recipient of the first-place ranking for the Geospatial Maturity Index. This past year has presented tremendous challenges for all of us. Yet it has also provided opportunities to showcase and push the boundaries of our geospatial tools and expertise. It has provided new location-centric insight to decision makers and the public on how best to safely function in a pandemic situation. These were often groups not previously familiar with the power of geospatial data.

Calgary has always realized that location-based data and intelligence is fundamental to enabling the efficient delivery of public services.  As a result, we have continued to grow our collaboration with City services, our vendors and partners to a point where GIS is an integrated component of many new technologies, including artificial intelligence, real-time positioning, Internet of Things and connected sensor technologies.  It is through this relentless exploration and evaluation of opportunities that we are able to continue to mature in the geospatial field.

This ranking emphasizes that we must not take our foot off the pedal of expanding the use of GIS technology and expertise. The GMI ranking continues to provide valuable insight for continued growth and improvement for The City of Calgary. Our world-class team continues to expand their expertise and have the permission and space to try new things – we strive for an innovative culture at the heart of all that we do.”

— Gord Rasmussen, Acting Manager – Geospatial Business Solutions Division

2. Irvine, CA

Ranking: 2nd  |  Score: 93.12%

The City of Irvine, located in Orange County California, is the second most advanced GIS program in North America and the first U.S. GMI participant to crack the top three. Scoring second in Readiness, seventh in Implementation, and third in Impact, Irvine demonstrated maturity across all three core components of the GMI assessment. With approximately five full-time equivalent GIS staff, Irvine’s small but nimble GIS team delivers big outcomes. The GIS team is located within Irvine’s IT department, but GIS power users are supported throughout the organization, including Public Works, Finance, Parks & Recreation, Emergency Services, and Planning Services.

With a goal of becoming a centre for geospatial excellence, the City of Irvine adopted its GIS Master Plan and ensured that GIS data and programming are prioritized in the City’s Official Plan, Strategic Plan, Open Government Plan, and IT Master Plan. Irvine uses commercial GIS software and mobile data collection tools synced with a cloud-based inventory. The GIS team recently launched a data hub on the City’s website as a dashboard for interactive park maps, a building permit finder, a child care center map and more. Next, Irvine’s GIS team is looking to build out advanced 3D public facing web applications, and in time, data collection using drones.

Provided by the City of Irvine — “The City of Irvine GIS team strives for excellence and innovation by integrating into every department of the city and utilizing the newest technologies to tackle modern problems. We focus on enabling every city Department to have an easy way to analyze their data. Whether it’s through using live-data feeds for making critical decisions in real-time or being able to communicate with the public in an emergency situation. We continue to push the boundaries of how GIS is used in local government.”

— Alex Holt, Senior GIS Analyst

3. District of North Vancouver

Ranking: 3rd  |  Score: 92.59%

The District of North Vancouver (DNV) is not new to the GMI’s top performing list. After securing the third place ranking in 2018, DNV dipped slightly to sixth place in 2019. In 2020, DNV reclaimed third place for the GMI, with an even result across all categories of the geospatial assessment, scoring sixth in Readiness, fourth in Implementation, and fifth in Impact. DNV’s GIS program is centralized within the IT department, with between 6 and 10 full-time equivalent staff powering the District’s GIS outcomes.

DNV has a GIS Strategic Plan in place to guide departmental priorities, and geospatial data is leveraged throughout other corporate plans to support both broad and specific goals, such as KPIs related to development, traffic, housing, community health, and the environment. In addition to regular internal training provided to GIS staff, DNV offers periodic workshops with other departments to update staff on new GIS capabilities and to community groups as requested. According to DNV’s GIS team, “staff awareness and appreciation of GIS’ abilities has led to increased demand for GIS applications and service.” The District’s in-demand GIS team plans to look at new application development, enhanced 3D modelling and BIM capabilities, augmented and virtual realities, and hardware upgrades (like drone technology) in the years to come.

Provided by the District of North Vancouver — “As a centralized resource for all departments, the DNV GIS team strives to provide creative solutions and workflows that serve users across the organization. The team has long had the support of the Executive and Senior Management in continuing to improve and challenge processes, through research and innovation.”

— Krista Heinrich, Manager of Business Applications

Top State/Provincial/Federal Agency or Department

USDA Forest Service

Ranking: 30th

The top performing provincial/state/federal agency or department in the 2020 GMI was the United States Forest Service who ranked 30th. The Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, embracing the power of geospatial information to analyze and visualize data pertaining to the country’s 154 national forests.

The United States Forest Service offers a dynamic GIS web viewer for exploring hiking trails, camping sites, and more across national forests and grasslands.

Global Trailblazer

Cassowary Coast Regional Council

1st-Year Participant

Cassowary Coast Regional Council - FloodInform Report.

Cassowary Coast Regional Council in Queensland, Australia uses their geospatial data and tools to offer interactive maps to the public to view road network and flood mapping data and reports for regions and properties.

Population of region: 30,000
Size of GIS department: 2-5 staff (Spatial and Asset Information Services)
Structure of GIS program: Centralized (within IT department)
Departments using GIS data/systems:

  • Asset/Infrastructure Management
  • Planning Services
  • Public Works & Engineering
  • Finance
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Customer Service

Next GIS priority: Finalize first GIS Strategic Plan

Previous GMI Results

2019 GMI Results

1City of Calgary1001+Single-tier municipalityAB96.3%
2Toronto Police Service1001+Law EnforcementON94.7%
3York Region1001+Upper-tier municipalityON93.7%
3City of Leduc501-1000Single-tier municipalityAB93.7%
5District of Kitimat201-500Single-tier municipalityBC92.1%
6District of North Vancouver501-1000Single-tier municipalityBC90.5%
7Strathcona County1001+Single-tier municipalityAB89.4%
8City of Winnipeg1001+Single-tier municipalityMB85.7%
9City of Burnaby1001+Single-tier municipalityBC85.2%
10City of Mississauga1001+Lower-tier municipalityON84.7%
11County of Newell51-200Single-tier municipalityAB84.1%
12City of Cambridge501-1000Lower-tier municipalityON82.5%
12Grey County501-1000Upper-tier municipalityON82.5%
12Region of Niagara1001+Upper-tier municipalityON82.5%
15Halifax Regional Municipality1001+Single-tier municipalityNS82.0%
16King County1001+Upper-tier municipalityWA81.0%
17Ville de Montréal1001+Upper-tier municipalityQC79.9%
18City of Guelph1001+Single-tier municipalityON77.8%
18San Juan County501-1000Upper-tier municipalityNM77.8%
20Durham Region1001+Upper-tier municipalityON76.7%
21City of Burlington1001+Lower-tier municipalityON75.7%
22Municipality of Chester51-200Single-tier municipalityNS74.1%
22Municipality of the County of Kings51-200Single-tier municipalityNS74.1%
24Conservation Halton501-1000Conservation AuthorityON73.5%
25  Stark County IT1001+Upper-tier municipalityOH73.5%
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“I participated in the GMI to refine my insights into how King County GIS compares to its peers and to help identify areas that we should target for improvement in the future.”

Greg Babinski, GIS Marketing and Business Development Manager, King County, WA 2019

“We continue to be a proud leader in the use, management and evolution of geographic information systems which enable The City of Calgary’s location analytics. Our success is not achieved independently – it would not be possible without our collaborative partnerships inside and outside our organization.
PSD’s GMI Rankings continue to demonstrate that our decades of focus on this valuable technology has positioned us well for today’s economic climate. Locational intelligence is the foundation for well-connected data and shareable data, enabling us to expand our Smart City infrastructure, utilize big data and continue to efficiently provide decision-support for citizen services. Not only does it provide a solid backbone for numerous City operations, but it also supports the growth of technology industries locally. The GMI Ranking gives us valuable insight and adds another benchmark to which we can gauge our effectiveness and efficiency. Last year’s GMI results helped us focus on areas of improvement and we’ve spent a lot of time refining our strategic direction to ensure sustainment of our core, reliable geospatial technologies.”

Liz Findlay, Manager, Geospatial Business Solutions, Corporate Analytics & Innovation, City of Calgary, 2019

“The GMI ranking continues to provide valuable insight for continue growth and improvement for The City of Calgary.”

Gord Rasmussen Acting Manager – Geospatial Business Solutions Division, City of Calgary, 2020