Who We Are: David Walk and Sarah Cordivano

Today, the MDO blog would like to highlight the work of David Walk and Sarah Cordivano, a few of the faces behind the GIS Services Group in the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT). Together, the two help to provide geospatial services to departments across the City.

That means, along with their colleagues in the GIS Services Group, they help maintain and build applications; offer technical support; maintain systems, servers and databases; develop applications; install software; facilitate a GIS internship program, fulfill data requests and provide software licensing agreements, among a long list of other services.

The two are busy. While it’s no secret that the GIS group has made City spatial data publicly available for over a decade (they began posting GIS data to PASDA, Pennsylvania’s official spatial data clearinghouse, in 2002), the City’s Open Data Initiative has greatly expanded this effort to include such high-value datasets as crime incidents.   Front and center in this effort, Sarah and David review data and make recommendations on how those data could be made more useful to the public. In the recent AVI data release, for example, David and Sarah thought the data would be more useful to the public if it were geocoded. It is behind-the-scenes efforts like this that rarely get mentioned in media coverage but without them, such data would be less valuable for public consumption.

David, a GIS Developer and Sarah, a GIS Specialist II, have a passion for their jobs. When explaining their roles they are thorough, excited, yet humble about their position in the big picture. They are quick to point out that the GIS Services Group is only one part in the intricate process of gathering, maintaining and publishing data that come from departments across the City.

David is even humble about his successful personal project www.phlcrimemapper.com. This application allows users draw any sized polygon on a map of Philadelphia; the app then displays the crime data for that given area over any portion of time. The app draws crime data from the database that David and Sarah help to maintain. It’s a visually stunning, important example of what can be built when data is released to the public.

Many thanks to David and Sarah for their work and vision in the Office of Innovation and Technology and across the City of Philadelphia. There’s more to come from these two…

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