Friday, January 15, 2016

Provology 101 - Human Resources and GIS

Provology 101, a series of classes that give a behind-the-scenes look at how Provo City runs, has given City departments the chance to show and tell about what they do for Provo. One of the participants, Anona Sobczak, has been sharing her experiences on Facebook and gave us permission to share them with you.

October 21, 2015
HR and GIS. Usually once the acronyms start flying, that's when things get dull. I think we were all pleasantly surprised by how this hour of class turned out.
Chris Cooper, the HR recruiter, presented to us first. The city has 1400 employees right now. There are around 600 full-time employees, so a lot of seasonal help. In fact, 400 people were hired in the past 6 months! If you're looking for a job or know someone who is, check out and browse the listings. About 50 of those hires were students, just FYI. The city now sponsors promising applicants through the police academy (POST), which I thought was really great, since it opens the field to a lot more applicants. I also thought it was interesting that city employees are trained using "The SPEED of Trust" by Stephen M.R. Covey and Rebecca Merrill. I'll have to read that. If you want to find out the salaries of city employees, check out
On to Geographic Information Systems, or GIS. The IT needs of the city are wide and varied, and the city needs the infrastructure of IS to keep it going. GIS in particular is digital mapmaking to improve decision making in the city. For example, zoning, parcel lines, recycling areas, electrical maps, water maps, storm water, sewer, etc. (Some of these data layers aren't shared with the public for security concerns.) The police use crime maps for intelligent policing. The mayor can pull up a map to see where the most towing incidents occur. Animal control can see where all the deer complaints are coming from. There are so many uses to the over 200 layers of information in the database.
My favorite part was when Phil Uhl, the GIS administrator, asked us, "Who's familiar with CDBG grants?" "We all are!" the class chorused. Guess he didn't know that we already covered community development. I will say with pride that after this class, we are not your average group of citizens. We are...Super Citizens. Should I trademark that?
Of course, GIS has a great web page within the city that explains what they do and has access to the neat map I'm going to tell you about.
You can type in your address and find out all sorts of information--your neighborhood, your neighborhood plan, your voting precinct, your polling place, when trash pickup is, who represents you on the City Council, who represents you in the Utah House and Senate, what the zoning is, parks near you, and even election results and how many people in your precinct voted! Go check it out as a baby step to getting involved in the city!

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