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Baltic on track for digital mapping May 5, 2009

Posted by Bahadir Sahin in English, Haber (News).
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Baltic is joining a growing number of small towns as it works to install a Geographic Information System that will improve the management of city infrastructure.

GIS is a way of storing information in digital maps to make the maps more useful, and it can help cities save money, experts say.

In Baltic, city officials say the GIS system will keep track of many aspects of city information, including water, sewer and street data that can be updated daily. It also will help keep city records organized, up-to-date and readily available, allowing officials to quickly find information and track economic development.

It can help officials decide, for example, which roads should be resurfaced next or where to extend water and sewer lines, or it could keep a record of how many times maintenance workers had to respond to a water main break.

“I think it will be very useful,” City Finance Officer Elaine Hendrickson said. “One example is street maintenance. It will be able to tell us block by block when each area was last surfaced.”

The city will need to spend about $9,000 to get started.

As a first step, the City Council approved $4,500 for a city map to be drawn by engineers at Banner Associates in Brookings and to provide training for city employees. The council is expected to approve the remaining money.

“That will get us to the point where we can start entering data,” Hendrickson said.

Once the initial map is drawn, applications can be added to organize multiple sources of information so it can be viewed easily in one area. The information can be accessed in separate layers, such as sewer lines, manholes, lots, city blocks or an aerial photo. The layers also can be viewed together, said Steven Rames, GIS department manager at Banner Associates.

“The cost benefit to putting together the GIS at the mapping stage right now is about $1 to $1,” Rames said, “Ultimately, it will return $4 for every $1 you put in. The more people that can access the data as they come in to do their job, the higher the cost benefit gets.”

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