Need to find that guy who did your buddy’s pinstriping at the Sturgis motorcycle rally last year or a port-a-potty in the downtown area?
Look no further than your smartphone.
The city of Sturgis has put a year-round mapping technology software used in their planning and zoning department to use in helping rallygoers find what they need during the rally.
“We first started using it last year for planning and zoning, but have expanded it for use during the rally,” said Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie.
The program is called ArcGIS by esri or Environmental Systems Research Institute. The company, headquartered in Redlands, Calif., is an international supplier of geographic information system software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications.
Ainslie said once temporary vendors have registered for a license inside the city limits of Sturgis, their information is loaded into the database which gives them a marker on a city map. The map is updated twice a day during the rally.
“It's digital and mobile friendly,” Ainslie said. “We have some plans to improve upon it even more for next year.”
Rallygoers can find the map at: cityofsturgis.maps.arcgis.com, and then click on "Sturgis motorcycle rally web app."
When not being used by the city for rally-related data maps, the GIS system is used by the city to track people getting building permits online or those who have requested a variance to the zoning ordinances.
But for rally purposes, the online registration has been a huge time saver for both vendors and city staff.
“Nearly two-thirds of the vendors registered through our new online system this year,” Ainslie said. “We used to have nearly 30 people working the vendor registration. It’s really been a savings for the taxpayers.”
Another benefit of the new system is that the city can extrapolate pertinent information from the data that is generated.
Rally regulars know the town is dominated by T-shirt and apparel vendors. Now, the city can determine, with a click of a button, just what percentage of all vendors are selling T-shirts or food or motorcycle parts.
As of Friday, the data showed that 27 percent of the temporary vendors were selling apparel and accessories, followed by a miscellaneous category with 18 percent of the licenses.
Tattoo and body-piercing vendors made up 14 percent of the total with food vendors coming in at 10 percent. Even the churches doing rally breakfasts were listed among the food vendors.
The system is only as good as the information that is loaded into it. It is up to the vendor to fill in the product information when they apply. So, it behooves the vendor to include as much detail as possible.
For example, Bika Chic Boutique, set up in a temporary location near the Iron Horse Saloon, included in its merchandise details a whole laundry list of items: cosmetics, boots, sandals, costume jewelry, hats, belts, handbags, wallets, hair accessories and bandanas.
Christine Lake, owner of Bika Chic, said she didn't even know the city's mapping system existed. When she learned about its capabilities she was excited.
"That's fantastic," she said.
Others were not as forthcoming when listing what they offered, which may have left them out of returns when people would search for specific items.
Despite the limited intended purpose of the GIS software used by the city, it has proved invaluable as a tool for both temporary rally vendors and rallygoers, Ainslie said.