Geographic Information Systems


The SCAG GIS Services Program was initiated and organized starting in the late 1980s with the goal of being the preeminent source of information for the southern California region. The purpose of the program is to derive and promote a model policy for distributing geospatial data and other information developed and maintained at SCAG. We believe so strongly in providing this service to stakeholders that we have incorporated this philosophy into our Ten Year Strategic Plan.

Our services are available to government agencies and private businesses without any fees. Our information is used by local government, public agencies, consultants, academia, students and the general public. Our information is designed for use in plans, studies, analyses, and presentations. The SCAG GIS Services Program is made up of skilled researchers, statisticians, demographers, economists and GIS technicians with a long history in the industry. As an agency, we strive to be a central source for providing GIS data and information about the region.

SCAG offers specialized software training and data assistance to its member jurisdictions through the GIS Services Program. The GIS Services Program promotes data sharing and updating to enhance region-wide GIS data standardization and helps SCAG maintain effective working relationships with its member cities and key stakeholder agencies. Services include training, data conversion, simple application development and more. These resources help local agencies better leverage their assets to become more efficient, save money, and/or provide new services to their residents and businesses. SCAG’s conservative estimate of savings to local participating jurisdictions is $2 million.

One important element of SCAG’s GIS and Data Program is the GIS Services Program. Started in 2010, the GIS Services Program is a free service to SCAG member agencies. Currently, 79 local jurisdictions and two partner agencies (Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), Imperial County Transportation Commission (ICTC), and the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA) are participants. Through the Program, SCAG’s GIS staff assists member agencies with professional services and free trainings and software. For some agencies the newly acquired tools have been used to deliver additional services to residents and developers, which has led to a new source of local revenue. The Program has also given SCAG staff the opportunity to meet, discuss and customize GIS services for the 81 participants. Customized services include creating desktop/web applications with local jurisdiction data, converting non-spatial data into GIS format, day-to-day GIS problem-solving and GIS training at 17 venues across the region including the cities of Brawley, Lancaster, Los Angeles, Palm Desert, Santa Ana and Ventura.

SCAG is also in the process of implementing an Enterprise GIS that at its core is focused on developing and disseminating information to interested parties. We are completing our digital geographic databases and are focused on data distribution and standardization and that the data be used as widely as possible. We look to the web as the engine for distributing our data and information in a cost effective and sustainable way.

Our program goals are:
  • Users of geographic information and data will gain better access to needed data.

  • Local governments and public agencies will partner with SCAG on data standardization.

  • Local governments will find more, and diversified, users for their data.

  • Local governments and SCAG will realize cost savings through data sharing and through the establishment of consortiums when feasible.

  • Data maintenance, update, and metadata documentation will become accepted as part of the normal data distribution business process.

  • The maintenance of this program is spearheaded through the Research and Analysis department under the Land Use and Environmental Planning division at SCAG.

GIS Links

ESRI is the world’s leading provider of geographic information systems (GIS). Their main site allows users to become acquainted with the benefits and capabilities of GIS.

ESRI Software Training is available for all levels of GIS (introductory, intermediate, advanced), oftentimes at no price.

ESRI’s ArcGIS Online allows users to build and deploy simple web based mapping applications at no cost.

URISA is an association for GIS professionals, and offers training and certification opportunities.


Regional Data Platform

Regional Data Platform Banner

What is the Regional Data Platform?

As one of SCAG’s largest and most transformative initiatives to date, and a signature element of SCAG’s Future Communities Initiative established in 2017, the Regional Data Platform (RDP) is a revolutionary system for collaborative data sharing and planning designed to facilitate better planning at all levels – from cities and counties of all sizes up to the region as a whole.


SoCal Greenprint

SoCal Greenprint Banner Image

SCAG is in the process of developing an innovative online regional mapping tool known as the SoCal Greenprint. This will be a strategic conservation mapping tool that highlights the benefits of natural lands, waters, and agricultural lands, including access to parks and trails, habitat protection and connectivity, clean water, clean air, food production, and increased resilience to climate change.

The goals of the SoCal Greenprint are to protect, restore, and enhance natural lands, public greenspace, working lands, and water resources and the benefits they provide to people and nature throughout the SCAG region. It will support planners, conservation practitioners, developers, infrastructure agencies, and other stakeholders in integrating the protection of natural and agricultural resources into land use and infrastructure plans and avoid potential litigation by identifying and assessing environmental issues early in the planning process.

To ensure that data provided through the tool aligns with SCAG’s Regional Advance Mitigation Program (RAMP) Policy Framework and fulfillment of the Connect SoCal PEIR mitigation measures, establishment of the SoCal Greenprint tool will adhere to data policies, governance standards, user guidelines, data selection criteria, and data parameters that will be developed by staff with input and consultation from a Technical Advisory Committee and presented to the Energy & Environment Committee (EEC) and the Regional Council for their review and approval. The Greenprint Technical Advisory Committee will be comprised of at least one representative from: each county transportation commission in the SCAG region, Caltrans, each county government in the SCAG region, the City of Los Angeles, two city governments within each county in the SCAG region, as well as a representative from the environmental community with RAMP experience, and a representative from the business community. This Technical Advisory Committee shall be open to the public and seek input from the development community, non-governmental conservation groups, regional conservation agencies, researchers, and other stakeholders.


Aerial Imagery Consortium

Given the important role geospatial data has in making planning decisions, SCAG is working with a number of local and regional agencies to form a purchasing co-operative that would obtain a variety of high quality aerial imagery at a reduced, shared cost.