High-tech maps give vulnerable communities a fairer share

Jul 7, 2014 -- Cutting-edge smart mapping technology is being used to pinpoint South Australia’s most vulnerable communities as part of a new initiative influencing the allocation of millions of dollars’ worth of services and grants programs.

The Geographic Information System (GIS) platform from geospatial giants Esri Australia is being used by SA’s Department of Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI) to develop interactive, real-time maps layered with Census and social service data, and information about departmental resources.

The solution will help deliver more targeted programs and grants to the state’s homeless, people with disabilities, and disadvantaged youth and families.

The multi-dimensional maps visually represent the level of risk within communities across South Australia, as well as their current access to existing resources.

This gives DCSI personnel an accurate insight into where there may be service gaps and provides evidence to support funding and grants decisions that target resources to areas with the greatest needs.

In 2013, DCSI allocated more than $500 million in grants, subsidies and client payments across the state, including water, public transport and energy concessions for South Australians.

Esri Australia GIS in Government specialist David Floreani said DCSI had set a benchmark for government departments allocating resources during tough economic times.

“It is the first time in Australia where a government department has used this method to bring together geography, financial data, service information and demographics to enable better decision-making,” Mr Floreani said.

“In an increasingly challenging fiscal landscape, DCSI is thinking outside of the box to ensure they stretch their budgets further and allocate precious resources to communities most in need.

“This is an evidence-based practice which presents facts and figures in a mapping format that is easy for DCSI’s decision-makers to understand and share with others within their organisation.

“The Department should be commended for its innovation and leadership in this area.”

DCSI Business and Location Intelligence Manager Gary Maguire said SA’s non-government organisations (NGO) sector will also be able to use the maps to better target their own proposals for social services.

“Access to GIS technology can be shared across the Department and broader sector network,” Mr Maguire said.

“That means anyone looking at the map – whether it’s DCSI staff or NGO personnel – can access the same up-to-date view of information.

“This ‘single point of truth’ ensures there is no double-handling of information and enables our processes to operate more efficiently, reducing expenditure even further.”

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