Maricopa County has decided to cash in on the popularity of their GIS Maps website — the site receives 300,000 visitors a month — by soliciting for advertisers. The website interfaces with the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database and allows county residents to search for and view property lines, plat data, and other information on land and properties within the county. This aligns very well with the Service Provider directories (Real Estate, Financial, and Home Services) already designed into the site.
I understand and appreciate the County’s drive to increase their annual revenue without raising our taxes, but I feel rather uneasy about commercial sponsorships of a government agency. The potential for abuse is high since it provides special interests an avenue for exchanging large bids, to otherwise cash-strapped agencies, for favors. It can also lead to the indirect endorsement of one product or company over another. This is not a role that should be played by local, state, nor federal government.
I realise this isn’t a new idea — public schools have had advertised sponsors of scoreboards and events for years — but if this is a sample of things to come, where does it end? Chain-gang clothing provided by … or naming rights for the State Capitol building?