To really appreciate how technology has transformed the public’s ability to access documents held by agencies like the Arizona Department of Water Resources, one must step back in time and consider what it took to find filed information in The Olden Days.
In the Truly Olden Days before electronic versions of documents could be found online, there was paper. And file cabinets. And customer-service desks where weary clients would take numbers or stand in lines. In the Truly Olden Days, tracking down information often could be a day-long affair. Or days-long.
Then the era of online documents began. Being able to find a document from the comfort of one’s own computer terminal certainly helped reduce the time devoted to finding a document. But the key word always has been “find.”
Yes, the documents that a person would seek may be “there.” Stored somewhere on an agency’s website. But it often would take a skilled technician to sift through the user-unfriendly electronic storage bins. “There” was still a big, impenetrable place.
Like many state agencies, ADWR has put a great deal of effort and energy to move our records out of those frustrating Olden Days. Accessibility is crucial. Step by step, we are finding ways for our customers to find what they need easily and on their own.
ADWR’s Adjudications Division – a part of our team that deals with the nature, extent and relative priority of water rights in Arizona, which is one of the most complex areas of water law – has just put online an interactive tool that puts more information at the public’s fingertips.
The new map provides much easier access to the Department’s records of claims for water rights, known as “Statements of Claimants,” or “SOCs”.
Jointly developed by ADWR’s Adjudications and IT departments, it allows users to search by SOC number, claimant name, address or just to browse for water rights claims in a given area.
“Water rights claims filed with the Department were accessible online, but many customers required assistance in locating copies of their claims because the search process was difficult and cumbersome,” said Joy Hernbrode, Assistant Director in charge of the Adjudications Division.
“The new web map allows claimants to more easily locate their SOC. Customers can enter name or address information in the search bar, or just navigate the map to view the area that they are interested in.”
The Statement of Claimant Locator Map is one of several created by ADWR staff in recent years to help the public access the Department’s vast stores of water-related data more easily. The system is based on information system technology designed by Esri, a company that provides tools to capture, view, edit, manage, analyze, and share data in the context of location.