The small, yet bustling, city of Unalaska, with a resident population of 4,347, half living on Amaknak island and the other half living on Unalaska Island, has the added pressure of thousands of seasonal fishermen descending annually from all over the world to the small yet famous fishing port, Dutch Harbor. This makes Unalaska unique, with special needs and priorities for technology.
In 2008 when Unalaska reached out to Geographic Technologies Group (GTG) for a Strategic Plan, they were already planning to identify objectives and needs, according to GIS Administrator, James Price. During the past few years GIS staff worked on implementing several of the recommendations from the plan, but the work was given to staff who worked in Planning, Public Works, and Information Services. A renewed focus on streamlining data and software under the guidance of a GIS Administrator has led to the city to examine best practices for sharing resources, and a data sharing agreement with the Ounalashka Corporation.
The Ounalashka Corporation (also known as OC, a for profit corporation formed in 1973 under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act) and the City of Unalaska share jurisdiction over the same area. Both organizations were collecting GIS data for the same area, so the two entities signed an agreement in 2016 to share their data and eliminate data redundancy. GTG has provided the database scripting to automate the update process, ensuring data is current and accurate. Using Esri’s ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Portal, and the Collector App for field data acquisition and ArcGIS Online for data publishing, Unalaska and OC can easily access, maintain, and publish their shared GIS data. Cost sharing on new data acquisition was another goal of the agreement. The two agencies just completed an aerial photography acquisition under the cost sharing agreement. This joint effort led to an expanded imagery area that was captured at a higher resolution. Unalaska and the OC are both clients of GTG, in addition to being users of Esri’s suite of GIS software, so transitioning to a regional GIS was made easier, resulting in increased communications and efficiency.
James Price, GIS Administrator for the City of Unalaska, discusses the experience of working with GTG: “The Strategic Plan that GTG delivered to Unalaska was a solid plan from the start. The expertise they have with the Esri Local Government Information Model and local government really helped us. I would say their specialty is system integration. That is what they did for us. And the ongoing support the city receives from GTG is important to the functioning of the GIS, especially in relation to the integration with legacy software still being used.”
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