Borough of Saint-Laurent Develops Award-Winning Urban Planning System

Planning & Reporting Tasks That Used to Take Days, Now Only Take Minutes Using ESRI-Based System

MONTREAL – ESRI Canada User Conference – September 21, 2011 – Saint-Laurent is a highly industrialized borough in the City of Montreal and the second-largest employment hub in the city, after downtown Montreal.  To support its strategic development plan, Saint-Laurent developed GeoUSOL, an urban planning system that leverages ESRI's geographic information system (GIS) technology.  The innovative system provides planners with advanced mapping and geographic analysis capabilities that have increased the speed and quality of planning processes.  In recognition of their outstanding application, ESRI Canada today presented the Borough of Saint-Laurent with an Award of Excellence in GIS. 

“Building sustainable urban communities involves designing with geography,” says Alex Miller, president, ESRI Canada.  “There needs to be a balance between man-made and natural environments to support the economic, social and environmental needs, not only of current residents, but also of future generations.  This is what Saint-Laurent demonstrates with their innovative system.  In integrating geographic information on all aspects of urban development into their planning, Saint-Laurent has established a platform for effective decision-making which will enable their continued prosperity.”
Planners previously relied on a computer-aided design (CAD) system to create drawings and models of proposed buildings and development projects.  However, the system did not allow them to analyze the plans in relation with their geographic context.  To better inform planning, the Borough integrated their urban planning management system with ESRI's ArcGIS Server technology to create GeoUSOL, a Web application that provides powerful data integration, mapping and georeferencing functionality.  They also integrated their database containing land, building, address, permit and zoning information with the system.  This maximizes the value of their existing data by opening it up to planners and managers so they can perform in-depth analyses and make sound decisions. 

GeoUSOL has reduced the time it takes to accomplish tasks.  When the Borough needs to send out communications to residents who will be impacted by new projects, planners can now visualize and select residences surrounding the project on a digital map and pull the list of addresses automatically.  This task used to take several days because the list had to be compiled manually.  Now, the process takes about 20 minutes.

The Web-based application has democratized access to data and lowered IT costs for the Borough.  Users do not need to install GIS software on their computers to use the system; they can access it through a Web browser set up with the appropriate security controls.  Planners can now update various data using the system, as well as present plans and different types of reports using detailed maps. 

With GeoUSOL, Saint-Laurent has modernized their approach to urban planning.  Maps and geographic analysis have become integral to their planning process, increasing efficiency.  The Borough has expanded the system to other departments and it is now used by more than 100 staff.  They recently applied the system to improve waste management processes and will launch an application that allows the public to access the Borough's maps, imagery and geographic information in the future.
For more information on ESRI's ArcGIS Server technology, visit


About the Borough of Saint-Laurent
The Borough of Saint-Laurent is one of 19 boroughs that make up the City of Montréal. It is home to around 90,000 people and some 2,500 industrial companies. The borough has a surface area of 43 km2 and more than 52 percent of its territory consists of employment zones, providing 87,000 jobs.  More information is available at

About ESRI Canada
Founded in 1984, ESRI Canada provides enterprise geographic information system (GIS) solutions that empower businesses, governments and educational institutions to make timely, informed and mission-critical decisions by leveraging the power of geography.  The company distributes the world's leading GIS software from ESRI, Telvent, Cityworks and other technology partners.  Headquartered in Toronto, the company serves over 10,000 customers from 16 regional offices across Canada and has been named as one of the top 250 Canadian IT companies and top 25 IT professional services providers in Canada by the Branham Group.  Information about ESRI Canada can be found at

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