Civic News
Municipal government / Technology

Meet the City of Philadelphia’s new mapping chiefs

When Jim Querry left the City of Philadelphia after nearly 20 years of leading its mapping technology efforts, Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid decided to rethink the city's GIS (geographic information systems) strategy.

A screenshot of the heat map feature on the Police Department's updated GIS system, developed by Grant Ervin and his team.

When Jim Querry left the City of Philadelphia after nearly 20 years of leading its mapping technology efforts, Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid decided to rethink the city’s GIS (geographic information systems) strategy.

Ebeid wanted to, among other things, develop ways to link up the city’s GIS work with the city’s newer open data and civic technology initiative, as well as lay the groundwork for a sustainable GIS team. To help think through these goals, Ebeid held a one-day retreat in December, hosting staffers from GIS software giant ESRI, GIS staffers in other cities, GIS contractors and members of the open data community

One change he’s making centers on new leadership. Ebeid announced the new leadership structure last week:

  • Mark Wheeler, formerly an urban planner at the City Planning Commission, will be the city’s new Geographic Information Officer (GIO) — Jim Querry’s former title.
  • Tom Swanson, formerly a New York City-based engineer at GIS software firm ESRI, will be the new Deputy GIO for Planning and Architecture. This is a new role Ebeid created. (Swanson is yet another private sector employee that has joined Ebeid’s leadership team: former Chief Data Officer Mark Headd left Code for America to join the City of Philadelphia in the fall of 2012.)
  • Grant Ervin, formerly the city’s GIS manager for public safety, will be the new deputy GIO for Enterprise Services. This is another new role Ebeid created. Ervin will lead the development of GIS programs for city agencies. It’s something Ervin is familiar with: he’s the one behind the mapping software that the Police Department, Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management use.

Ebeid plans to make one more deputy GIO hire to lead management and operations, he said.


Companies: City of Philadelphia / Esri

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