For the past several years, Towson University’s Center for GIS (CGIS) has worked with several partners to create a Community Anchor Institution (CAI) database. The CAI database contains broadband-related data about schools, libraries, public safety facilities, government facilities, higher-education institutions, and some non-governmental facilities. CGIS relies on local jurisdictions to provide the broadband-related data for the CAI database.

Currently, CGIS provided a representative of each local jurisdiction with an Excel spreadsheet that contains a list of all the jurisdiction’s CAIs. The representative is responsible for verifying or updating the broadband data associated with each CAI. Once the data is updated, the representative provides CGIS with the updated Excel spreadsheet and CGIS incorporates the update into the authoritative CAI database.

Baltimore County Community Anchor Institutions

Baltimore County Community Anchor Institutions

Recognizing that this workflow can be improved, CGIS has published thematic map services using ArcGIS Online to display the data spatially. These maps are displayed in an interactive ESRI story map that is customized for each jurisdiction. Instead of providing each local jurisdiction representative with an Excel spreadsheet, CGIS will provide a unique URL for the jurisdiction’s story map. The story map displays the known and unknown high-speed Internet status of the jurisdiction’s CAI data. The maps displayed in the application will help the representative quickly identify the CAIs for which broadband access is unknown. The data can be edited by accessing a verification tool directly from the web mapping application.

This new workflow is a significant improvement in the maintenance of the CAI database. The new workflow: 1) improves the visualization of the current data through the use of basic thematic mapping, 2) increases automation of the CAI database update process, and 3) provides more control to those responsible for updating the data.

Read more about our experience mapping broadband service and performance across Maryland.