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The gist of the city’s GIS January 14, 2009

Posted by Bahadir Sahin in English, Haber (News).
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Over the past few decades most of us have become aware of the combination of electronic maps and data to create Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and the City of Marco Island began to convert zoning and land use maps from paper format to computerized, digital format several years ago.

Numerous layers of data have been developed that can now be used and combined to create an extensive variety of maps and displays. To date, the city’s GIS includes numerous data layers and has used these layers to produce hundreds of maps.

Land use, zoning, flood zones, wild life habitat, water lines, streets, and wetlands are just a few examples of the many types of maps available at City Hall. Maps and data are easily customized to include any combination of data for specified areas in various sizes, colors, and formats, and available maps can be viewed and down loaded from the City’s Web site: cityofmarcoisland.com/Public_Documents/MarcoIslandFL_ComDev/ComDevMaps.

Although GIS is a technology most often associated with maps, one of the more significant advantages of the system is its ability to analyze data and provide answers to a variety of questions related to geographic information.

GIS is a computerized database of spatial information. The map is simply the end result. Enhanced GIS capabilities can be as simple as locating all properties within 300 feet of a parcel for mailing petition notices, to more complex functions such as modeling a water distribution network to analyze flow capacity or isolate a water main break.

GIS is a useful tool to all city departments and, by leveraging the tools within the GIS system, the efficiency and effectiveness of City operations is greatly improved.

We can expect several new developments in the upcoming year from the city’s GIS division. The city’s GIS manager, Gretchen Baldus, and the city’s information services manager, Lisa Douglass, are committed to expanding the application of GIS technology throughout the organization in several ways.

Maps are being updated with current data. The ability to create new maps will be facilitated by enhancements to the database, including a component to allow historical tracking, the addition of intelligence to the data to minimize editing errors, and the combination of disparate data sources into one so that all users can view the same up-to-date version.

These improvements will also lead us to better service, as we make existing data available throughout the organization in the form of desktop applications that are customized based on the users’ needs. For example, when reviewing an application for a new single family residence, a permitting clerk will need to examine several criteria specific to that address: The zoning regulations, the required base flood elevation, available utilities, recorded lot dimensions, and other characteristics. A front-counter application can be built with components of GIS technology that will make information more readily available to system users.

A third goal in improving the city’s GIS system is to provide the tools necessary to bring geographic data and analysis to the field. These improvements will allow utility workers to record new manhole locations in the field, enable real-time fleet tracking of police and fire vehicles, and allow building services staff to collect and relay damage assessment information more expediently following a storm event.

Finally, it is the goal of GIS to develop an interactive map that can be accessed by citizens from the city’s Web site to browse and query a variety of spatial information relevant to Marco Island. This will be useful to citizens in accessing all available GIS data and will reduce the need to travel to City Hall in many instances. The city’s Web site will continue to be the best resource to access GIS maps and data.

Planned goals and improvements to the city’s GIS system contribute to the overall vision of developing GIS as an enterprise technology used to deliver spatial data to a large number of potentially varied users. The city will provide the framework for organization and sharing of data based on the common reference of location. All of the planned improvements are designed to improve collaboration and communication among city staff, reduce data redundancies and duplications, and enhance the level of service and utility available to the citizens of Marco Island.

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