The City of Guelph, Ontario, known as the Royal City, has a population of just over 120,000. The City which can be found 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Toronto boasts a very active and progressive community. Because of its low crime rates, clean environment, and generally high standard of living, Guelph is consistently rated as one of Canada’s best places to live. As such, Guelph’s citizens demand a very high standard from the City’s parks and the Parks and Recreation Department. The City has over 110 parks distributed strategically throughout the City. These parks are very diverse in size and usage. Each one has its own identity and fills a need of the community. However, like most Parks and Recreation Departments, staff struggle to track and manage all of the parks and their infrastructure. Additionally, staff felt that they were not presenting the wealth of opportunities sufficiently to their clientele.
The City turned to its GIS partner, Geographic Technologies Group (GTG), for assistance. GTG partnered with Guelph to implement a Parks and Recreation geographic management and analysis system-known as GreenCityGIS. This was initiated through a multi-phase database design that ensured feedback from Guelph staff and resulted in a database that captured all of the unique park features and desired attribution within the GIS framework. Once the database design project was complete, GTG’s Parks and Recreation field collection experts worked for weeks visiting every park and collecting all of the features and photography needed. This wealth of data was then used to launch a series of applications. Staff now has access to a Parks and Recreation analytical browser that allows them to view and analyze their infrastructure.
An Executive Dashboard was configured to track key analytics about the parks and staff has been enabled with field collection and maintenance tools. Additionally, a series of public facing applications has been launched to give Guelph’s citizens intuitive access to information about every park in their community. Guelph staff point out, “The City’s Parks and Recreation Operations have been revolutionized. We are now sharing and maintaining our services in ways unimaginable six months ago.” Matthew McLamb, Director of Parks and Recreation Services for GTG, points out, “GreenCityGIS is a difference maker for Guelph. Guelph now has a full inventory of all of its park assets, and the public has been enabled with the very best GIS tools. This is what GIS is all about. GIS is revolutionizing how Guelph delivers its services and communicates with its citizens.”