What is GIS?

Geographic Information Systems is a technology that is used to view and analyze data from a geographic perspective. The technology is a piece of an organization's overall information system framework. GIS links location to information (such as people to addresses, buildings to parcels, or streets within a network) and layers that information to give you a better understanding of how it all interrelates. You choose what layers to combine based on your purpose.


GIS is much more than mapping software. GIS is a technology that can change an organization fundamentally and positively. Most computer technology is designed to increase a decision maker's access to relevant data. GIS goes beyond mining data to 

give you the tools to interpret that data, allowing you to see relationships, patterns, or trends intuitively that are not possible to see with traditional charts, graphs, and spreadsheets.

More than that, a GIS lets you model scenarios to test various hypotheses and see outcomes visually to find the outcome that meets the needs of all the stakeholders. For example, a city employee looking to build a fire station can analyze the locations of
other stations in relation to potential locations in a spreadsheet view. GIS lets that employee visualize potential locations on a map along with drive­-time analysis, environmental concerns such as wetlands that might hamper construction, or any number of siting criteria that would be too cumbersome to comprehend otherwise.

History of GIS in Longview

GIS at the City of Longview has been around for many years. Although the use of GIS was limited by data quality and different projections the data were stored in. Therefore, in March 2004 the City had a GIS Master Plan written. The consultant found that in order to create a successful GIS it would be best to create an enterprise GIS. An enterprise GIS is an approach for implementing GIS throughout an organization to share geographic data and services.

In order to create an enterprise GIS, the following items were needed:
  • New staff had to be hired
  • New geographic data had to be collected and corrections to existing data were needed
  • New software and hardware were necessary
  • New processes and procedures were needed
The GIS Master Plan provided a three year framework for creating the enterprise GIS. We finished the three year implementation in 2008 and GIS is currently being used throughout the City of Longview supporting the decision making process for all departments and divisions that access geographically based information. It also provides improvements in efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of daily operations while providing accurate and up¬-to-¬date information to citizens and employees in a fast and effective manner.

In 2009, we implemented a GIS based work order management system to keep up with work being performed throughout the City. Originating in Public Works, the system is now used in almost every department. 

In 2012, GIS helped implement CitySend.  CitySend is a mobile and online service request and service system.  It allows residents to submit requests in their neighborhood and perform other services like paying their water bill or setting us reminders for trash service.

In 2015, GIS began contracting with the City of Kilgore to provide GIS services for their community.  Longview GIS administers and maintains some of the same systems for Kilgore that Longview uses.