PROJECT INFORMATION .
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 feature.
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.
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 liability issues
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.
Southern 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
GPS/Data Collection/Inventory Application. This will aid us in
identifying how we can best serve new members needs.