UGRC received additional funds for our work on the Web API and associated services. UGRC did not receive all funds requested however we did get ongoing funds, so users can expect to see enhancements in the near future. UGRC is also very open to suggestions for changes to our web services. Below is the justification I submitted for the request to the legislature.
UGRC Web Services Enhancements Budget Request
The Utah Geospatial Resource Center (UGRC) is responsible for acquiring, aggregating, and developing geospatial data for the State of Utah. Over the years UGRC has worked with countless partners to amass important spatial data, which is stored in the State Geographic Information Datasource (SGID). UGRC web services, specifically the web application programming interface (API), allow users to visualize and use this SGID data in a myriad of ways, from anywhere, for whatever reason, without licensed software.
In the early days of UGRC, the Web API was not a known technology; now it has become the de facto standard for enhancing and providing access to the SGID data. UGRC does not have a current budget for this effort. For years UGRC developed the technology with funds from other projects that utilize the API, appropriation funding, and small enhancement request funding from other agencies and organizations that are interested in supporting the API. However, these undedicated funding sources are not sufficient to update and enhance the UGRC Web API system according to our standards.
As agencies continually move toward data-driven approaches to serve the citizens of Utah, location data must be consistent, robust, repeatable, and easily available to problem solvers. Relevant and informed data-driven decisions will create the most value for citizens. To meet the increasing demand for consistent statewide data, UGRC needs consistent, increased funding. This increased funding would allow UGRC to enhance web services to better support Next Generation 911 (NG911), lieutenant governor voting efforts and administrative boundary certification, Medicaid fraud detection, treasurer’s office unclaimed property section, fleet management, streamlined sales tax, and other programs that require a citizen’s address location to provide the appropriate services.
Why UGRC Web Services?
UGRC web services require funding because location is a very important piece within many other government systems. The following systems are a few I would like to highlight:
- NG911: Improved routing of emergency calls to a public safety answering point and dispatch of emergency vehicles
- Voting Applications: Assignment of voters to precincts, and precincts to districts
- Detection of Medicaid and other types of fraud
- Assistance with the Watershed Restoration Initiative
Additional web services funding will now allow UGRC to raise the bar for making location data available. This is especially relevant with the widespread increase in demand for these centralized and authoritative UGRC services.
UGRC has used existing resources to develop web services to their current state and have tried to continue on this path; however, the significant adoption and reliance on the UGRC Web API requires a much more focused and attentive approach, as monthly requests to the API have risen in excess of twelve million. UGRC’s need to generate revenue by providing cost-recovery project work greatly limits the time we are able to put toward the Web API. We are simply not able to maintain and enhance the API as we would like to; however UGRC always makes sure the system is viable, reliable, and a valuable resource.
Benefits and Value
Improving UGRC web services is at the crux of modernization and innovation efforts for Utah state government. By continually developing, maintaining, and improving the quality and accessibility of citizen address coordinates and related spatial data, the Web API provides a single, consistent source of truth from which all government agencies can pull data about the relationship of their services to the citizens of Utah. With increased funding, UGRC web services will be ready to handle the increasing demand for agencies to integrate spatial data into their business processes.
The Funding UGRC is requesting for web services will also add value in the following areas:
- Promote economic advancement - Citizen addresses paired with broadband availability areas inform where service is needed. The Broadband Economic Development Map shows other data that helps ascertain the location of economic opportunity in rural Utah.
- Assist with education innovation and investment - When students move from one district to another, geocoding helps identify the to and from district, then funds can be transferred.
- Streamline and modernize state government - UGRC web services offer an authoritative data source, a single source of truth for all agencies providing services based on the location of citizens’ addresses.
All Utahns will ultimately benefit from UGRC web services, as locational accuracy of citizens’ addresses and their relationship to government services and opportunities affects many aspects of the quality of citizens’ lives from safety (911), education (school districts), voting and elections (districts and precincts), monetary (tax entities and areas), recreation (proximity to parks and outdoor areas), and health care (available services and providers).