Using Google Maps to Inform and Empower Citizens
Among its many responsibilities, the City of Los Angeles Information Technology Agency (ITA) is tasked with deploying technology to share critical information with the sprawling city’s four million residents during emergencies.
Before 2016, ITA conveyed urgent information to residents in the traditional way, text on the city’s website. To communicate geographically relevant information, ITA posted PDF maps, which residents would need to download from the City of Los Angeles website. Website traffic was low and the relevance of the city’s website during an emergency was also low.
“It was classic, old-school government, in which large amounts of text and static maps were published, often on channels that weren’t easy to access. So, we weren’t always getting the word out like we needed to,” says Ted Ross, General Manager and Chief Information Officer for City of Los Angeles Information Technology Agency. Because the PDF maps had to be manually created and distributed, they might not be up-to-date during emergencies. And residents had to find their own location on the map—which wasn’t ideal during an emergency, especially for those away from home or in unfamiliar surroundings.
A more effective strategy was required for communicating vital information to the diverse communities throughout the city. The opportunity to try something new came in early 2016, as...