Friday, February 24, 2012

NE: County looks into geographical information system project

From the Fremont Tribune: County looks into geographical information system project
Dodge County officials are taking another look at their shelved geographical information system project after speaking Wednesday with a representative of GIS Workshop Inc.

Brenda Wilson of the Lincoln firm told supervisors that with the county in the process of taking back the assessment function from the state, and with a $25,000 grant available this year, now would be a good time to proceed with the project.

The county hired Kirkham, Michael and Associates Inc. in 2009 to conduct a pilot GIS project using Elkhorn Township. The same company completed a GIS project for the City of Fremont.

The county has not gone any further with the project, which could ultimately contain county-wide information accessible online ranging from land use and valuations, to 911 addresses, zoning and soil classification in layered maps and databases.

Meanwhile, the Lower Platte North and Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources Districts hired GIS Workshop to map irrigated agricultural acres in Dodge and other counties.

With the NRD and Fremont projects, a lot of the work in Dodge County has already been done, Wilson said.

“What that means for you,” she told supervisors, “is that you already have a foundation established. That’s less work that needs to be done, which of course would mean a lower investment.

“On top of that, there’s a fabulous opportunity that has presented itself this year,” she went on. “The Nebraska State Records Board has grant funds available. Last year we helped seven counties get funding for GIS projects.”

The maximum grant per project is $25,000 and the application deadline is April 9.

The board took no official action to apply for the grant, but asked Wilson to write a project proposal and return to the board at a later date.

Wilson said more and more counties are building GIS systems.

“The difference between GIS and an autocad environment is you can really do analysis because you’re able to pull out all that information that’s in that database that’s married to the map,” she said.

“Probably the biggest motivator I hear over and over again is it’s an aging workforce, and there’s a big concern that a lot of knowledge lies in people’s heads that are not going to be here in five years. They’re really realizing what a risk that puts them at. GIS can take that information and make it available across the board,” she said.

“It’s a county-wide GIS that allows everyone in the county to access it. It’s easy, you don’t have to learn GIS, you don’t have to have special software on your computer,” she said.

Wilson said she was unable to offer a cost estimate, but said costs would be based on the various departmental tabs the program would contain. Typically, she said, there is a setup cost and then an annual maintenance fee.

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