The administration of Mayor Kathy Sheehan unveiled a new online GIS tool today that will allow the public access to City of Albany property and zoning information in real time.
Albany has been developing its geographic information system since 1995, but the city's new "search Albany" web interface tool is something of a quantum leap. Mayor Kathy Sheehan: "We have started to implement a new computer system here in the city of Albany. Our codes department has implemented a new computer system. And the vision for this is to really be able to have one stop where you can find out what the status is of a property, what the assessed value of it is, whether it has ROPS*, I'm not promising that right now, that information isn't available yet, but this is the platform that we will then use, moving forward so that we can get information and look at property." *Residential Devlopment Permit
The portal, built on the Google maps platform, is much more than having a look at property. The system is able to pinpoint addresses, obtain tax information, check topography, locate bus stops, list when the city collects trash, list what utilities serve the area, and much more. Users can pull up and coordinate data into custom maps, which can be printed. People considering a move to Albany can check out every nook and cranny online without actually traveling there. News organizations can glean information easily. "We haven't even begun to tap the data that we have available. There are FOIL requests that are made often that can be circumvented and you don't even have to make the FOIL request because the information is here. We wanna be as transparent as possible," said the mayor.
Georgette Steffens with Albany Downtown BID is sold on the system. "For us internally, as we identify who owns various properties, who we can connect with, whether there's marketing or potential tenants who might be interested in the property, we go after state grants. And so really understanding what the flood plain is on the properties that we're looking for residential conversion and being able to access that data very quickly, and what the zoning laws are, requirements are as property is going through the process through the city or with the state grants that we have would be extremely useful."
Albany Planning Director Chris Spencer says the site upgrade cost around $50,000. "We wanted to make sure that as we rezone the city and change the rules and change the designations that there was an easy way for people to get information on their property."
"We're looking forward to feedback about what other information that you want on here," added Sheehan.
Albany mayoral Candidate Frank Commisso Jr. of the Common Council hopes "search Albany" works better than "see click fix." "Of course see, click, fix we know just a few weeks ago had complaints of code violations of the buildings on Madison Avenue that ended up being part of one of the largest fires in Albany in many years. Those complaints were outstanding for 24 months. Had never been addressed by the city."
Mayor Sheehan says "search Albany" will prove its value over time.