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Planning Commission Receives Statewide Award for Maps and Data Portal

November 6, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Larry King, 215.348.6413 or lrking@buckscounty.org

Bucks County’s Maps and Data Portal, unveiled to the public little more than a year ago, has been honored with a 2019 Award for Projects, Programs and Practices by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association.

The award, presented recently to the Bucks County Planning Commission’s staff, recognizes the portal as “work [that] exemplifies the best and brightest in Pennsylvania planning,” according to the awards committee. Planning Award.01

“Our goal has and will be to ensure that our constituents have access to the data and publications that are most relevant and informative, whether you are an elected official, homeowner, business owner or simply curious about the county,” said Evan J. Stone, executive director of the Planning Commission.

The award was presented Oct. 21 at the PA Chapter of APA’s annual awards luncheon in Reading, attended by almost 500 people.

“It’s really a very useful tool, and it’s nice to see that they were singled out for this award,” said Brian Hessenthaler, Bucks County’s Chief Operating Officer. “Congratulations to Evan and his staff.”

In July 2018, the Planning Commission launched its web-based open data portal to provide information about initiatives of the County Commissioners and the work of the Planning Commission.

The portal offers a variety of documents, datasets and interactive maps to users on topics including open space preservation, subdivision and land development proposals, the opioid epidemic, recycling and hazardous waste, trail planning, pipelines, tax parcel maps, transportation, parks, elections and other topics.

The portal, developed by the Planning Commission staff with commercially available software, also links to related data from other organizations’ websites. It can be accessed at https://dataportal-bucksgis.opendata.arcgis.com/ Planning Award.03

The portal was initiated after the Planning Commission decided to use GIS software to provide interactive maps and other information to the public as a means of helping the District Attorney’s Office and the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission combat the opioid epidemic.

“GIS is more than maps,” Stone said. “The use of GIS data to drive decisions and remain educated has become a necessity, not a luxury. Our data portal was born of the need to understand the opioid crisis, and quickly evolved to be the data warehousing solution it is today.”