XIV. Summer Camp Guide

Interaction type Public → Government → Public
Trigger Event Back in 2014 Tompkins County adopted Drupal technology for its website and one of the County’s GIS staff members became involved with Web Development. The overlap of Web Development and GIS Technology resulted in an innovative, searchable, and user-friendly Summer Camps Web Application.
Domain Public and Private services
Organisation(s) Tompkins County NY
Actors Ithaca Times newspaper, Tompkins County Youth Department, Tompkins County ITS – GIS Division
Data sets in use GIS point data with attributes, links to websites, and photos
Process Summer camp managers upload details and locations of their facilities which then are easily searchable from the citizens, enabling them to find what suits them best.
Feedback Summer Guide Web Application enables youth, parents, and guardians to easily search and find concise information with links to additional information (webpages belonging to agencies providing camps and programs) by age groups and keywords.
Goal Creating a user-friendly web interface with searchable web applications and maps to benefit Summer Camp Agencies, the County’s Youth Services, and community.
Side effects Transformed the paper copy of County’s Summer Camp Guide into an all -encompassing user-friendly web interface featuring searchable web applications and maps.
Contact Point Svetla Borovska, sborovska [at] tompkins-co [dot] org

A collaborative, crowdsourced-driven effort has been supported by Tompkins County NY, USA regarding the county’s summer camp guide. The aim is to create a user-friendly web interface with searchable web applications and maps to benefit Summer Camp Agencies, the County’s Youth Services, and the community by providing updated information for all summer programs and camps for 2017 in and around Tompkins County, New York. The effort has been supported by local actors such as Ithaca Times newspaper, Tompkins County Youth Department and Tompkins County ITS – GIS Division. The concept for this project dates back in 2014 when Tompkins County’s GIS staff members started to explore the possibilities of Web Development. The intertwining of Web and GIS has quickly led to an innovative, searchable, and user-friendly Summer Camps Web Application.

The application, consists of a data collection GeoForm that enables summer camp managers to describe and record their facilities on a map; an informative website with all the necessary details for the public and a web mapping application that enables the public to search, find and locate the most suitable summer camp for their needs. Despite the fact that a number of possible improvements have been spotted (mainly related with the length of the attributes and description texts allowed to be filled in) the application generates point-based layers that contain the locations of available summer camps with their attributes, links to websites and photos.

The applications, transformed the way citizens used to be informed as it provides an alternative to the paper copy of County’s Summer Camp Guide through an all-encompassing user-friendly web interface featuring searchable web applications and maps. In parallel, the local newspaper (Summer Camp Guide paper-copy publisher) continued to publish all summer camps and programs descriptions within a 500 characters limit. Moreover, the application reduced the workload and turnout time for the County’s Youth Services staff; it gave the summer camps agencies more control (and responsibilities) in presenting their business and enabled youth, parents, and guardians to easily search and find concise information with links to additional information (webpages belonging to agencies providing camps and programs) by age groups and keywords.  However, a small number of summer camp managers did not have Internet access, so a staff member from the Youth Services department had to enter their information on the Geoform for them.

The Tompkins County Summer Guide 2017 started as a collaboration between the County’s ITS – GIS Division and Youth Services Department. The initial goal was to create a searchable and user friendly webpage to aid parents, guardians, and youth in their summer camp searches. While developing the web application, various old and longstanding issues were solved by using GIS Technology and crowdsourcing all of the mapping and background information about the summer camps and at the same time the effort managed to upgrade public sector services.

Main Lessons

  • Simple, yet handy, web mapping applications can considerably improve the level of public services provided.
  • “Professional” crowdsourcing can generate a critical mass of data to fuel a new way of information dissemination.
  • A handful of champions inside a public authority can change and improve the culture and the methodologies which used to be followed by the authority.
  • Given the abundance of technological means available today, a small investment in terms of time and effort in crowdsourced mapping applications can create the basis for innovative solutions for public services.

Resources

http://tompkinscounty.maps.arcgis.com/apps/GeoForm/index.html?appid=c388d1af353c42ae994a7815e7fdf16d

http://www.tompkinscountyny.gov/youth/summercamps

http://tompkinscounty.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicInformation/index.html?appid=35b9285c1e2e46048ccd5a0d5f4751f2

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