How can GIS can help your
If a street sign is absent or placed in
the wrong location, the Town would be liable if there was an accident.
By using GIS, the Town can prove that the sign was in the correct
location and also show its condition of specific dates
By examining the
coverage of fire hydrants and their flow rates, a municipality can
demonstrate the adequacy of fire protection services. They can see where
new infrastructure should be located and be able to direct the fire
fighters to adequate hydrants
When issuing a building
permit, the Officer must be aware of the proposed site and the potential
impacts of the site. The Town needs to know if there are any wetlands
that will be impacted; if the business fits within the zoning code; if
there are floodplains; etc. GIS can show all this at once and allow the
Town to analyze the permit application and make an educated decision on
granting it. Without GIS it is difficult at best, and costly, to examine
each of these elements and decide the potential impact. One mistake and
the Town is in trouble
Police protection is something that we rely on every day. If 911 is
dialed, we expect results . . fast GIS can accent the police department
and allow them to be more efficient in their jobs. They can examine
crime incident data to plan patrol routes; they can look at traffic
accident data to alert the DPW to potential problems, such as an
inappropriate speed limit. GIS can increase safety and help eliminate
The mid-1980's saw the emergence of GIS
software that allowed municipalities, counties, businesses, and other
organizations to view their data in new, spatial ways. Early software
was limited in its capabilities, and price-prohibitive. The last twenty
years have been kind to the GIS market. The capabilities of the software
have increased dramatically. The popularity is widespread and more and
more organizations are implementing the technology.
Closely related to expertise is data. All
municipalities have data. The question is whether the data is in a
format suitable to GIS, and if the municipalities know how to maintain
the data. Geographic data is complex because it has several components.
Not only does GIS data include the visual (roads for example), but it
also contains attributes of the feature (street name, addresses,
pavement type, etc.), as well as data about the geography of that
Tier West will provide access to sophisticated Global Positioning System
(GPS) equipment that can be used for data collection. This GPS
system is capable of providing locational accuracies of less that one
meter of error instantly. This GPS system is an efficient
way of collecting points (fire hydrants, DI), lines (water, street), and
polygon data (parcels, building footprints). These units are
available to Community GIS members on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Through a CAP Membership, you can receive 16
hours of technical assistance by STW-trained staff for data
collection. If you don't have technical assistance hours, STW
staff can perform GIS data collection at a rate of $40 per hour.
If you are considering a membership, please fill out our
Collection/Inventory Application. This will aid us in
identifying how we can best serve new members needs.n
GIS software is readily available and can be
purchased from several vendors. The software is relatively expensive and
requires training and/or experience to use. Again, it is difficult to
find this expertise, and the costs of GIS software can add up quickly.
Each department in a municipality that would like to utilize GIS would
require a licensed copy of the software. Any additional software
(extensions, etc.) would be a similar situation.
Today, the typical desktop computer can house
and run user-level GIS software. Professional GIS software does require
additional considerations; although this level of software is not
necessary. Desktop personal computers can be "beefed up" to include
additional hard drive space as well as RAM.
These pieces create the barrier for local
governments. Even if the municipality can overcome the financial burden
of purchasing hardware, software, and data, they still must address the
lack of expertise. These barriers will remain for the foreseeable
future. This is especially true in very small, rural municipalities. In
governments where clerks, supervisors, and others are part-time
employees, it is difficult to overcome these barriers. The costs alone
would be too stifling, not to mention the needed expertise and
management that comes along with GIS.
It is not impossible for municipalities to
overcome these barriers on their own. Some local governments do utilize
GIS to some extent. Each of the three counties in the region are at
different stages of GIS systems development. While the data is being
developed by the counties and is available to the municipalities, they
are on their own to use it. Although the counties would like to see
municipalities use the data, they themselves have no capacity to help
them do so.
Beyond liability, the uses of GIS are
extensive in local government. GIS can be used to assist in community
planning efforts, zoning, GASB-34 compliance, facilities maintenance,
and public awareness. Accurate maps that are readily available can save
time and money for a local government. Governments are expected to
provide their constituents with the best services possible without the
burden of high taxes; GIS can help them accomplish that. Today citizens
are concerned with efficiency, more services, and lower taxes. That
means municipalities must become more efficient in delivery of these
services. GIS is a tool to help them accomplish that.
The uses and need for GIS in local government
are obvious. Unfortunately, the same is true for the barriers.
Municipalities are beginning to recognize the need for GIS, but have no
way to overcome the barriers. Community GIS can help them by lowering
the barriers and offering GIS capacity at the municipal level.
Southern Tier West has developed tremendous
GIS capacity over the past several years. This capacity is in the form
of data, software, hardware, partnerships, and experience. Community GIS
utilizes this capacity and extends it to local governments.
The software used to create the interactive
mapping portion of Community GIS has the ability of serving GIS datasets
over the Internet to an end user. This means that Southern Tier West can
maintain and house the GIS data it currently has, and others can use it
without developing, maintaining, or storing it themselves. Community GIS
will serve this data to the local governments for their use; thereby
eliminating their need to develop, maintain, and store large datasets.
Southern Tier West has developed an expertise
on staff for Internet GIS and related issues. The foundation for
Community GIS was laid as a by-product of past projects. Community GIS
takes advantage of that foundation and creates a new tool for local
governments throughout the Southern Tier West region.