To support its Lewis County Geographic Information System (GIS) partners, the Development Authority of the North Country recently offered training in Lowville to help them make the most of this useful mapping tool. About 15 Lewis County municipal GIS users attended the training to learn how data in the system can be used to help them in their jobs.
Development Authority GIS Supervisor Star Carter told the group that the uses for GIS data are limited only by their imagination and demonstrated many practical applications of the tool.
“In addition to mapping your streets and sewer mains, you can get parcel information from GIS,” Carter said. “You can help your highway department measure its pavement, you can map trees, sidewalks and even ‘zombie’ properties.”
GIS is a computerized system used to store, retrieve, manipulate and analyze spatial data. The Development Authority has a sophisticated GIS program that it uses to not only track its own infrastructure, but is available to municipalities to track their assets as well, saving municipalities the expense of investing in their own software or staff. The Development Authority currently hosts 66 customers from six counties on its network, most of them towns, villages and counties.
“This is a fluid tool, always evolving,” Carter said. “If we don’t constantly update it, it will be just like any other map in a drawer. We want it to be easy to use, but we want to help you understand the significant capabilities of the system and how you can use it to make your life easier.”
Since 2010 the Development Authority has helped communities throughout the region obtain over $595,000 in grants for GIS implementation. GIS data on all Authority-owned infrastructure is available to the public; communities hosted on the Authority system have the option of making their GIS data publicly available.
GIS is evolving as a key resource for communities, helping them to manage critical infrastructure like water and sewer lines, hydrants, culverts, sidewalks, even trees and parking meters, in some instances. Prior to GIS, much of this infrastructure was “managed” on paper and through the institutional knowledge of long-time employees. One of the key advantages of GIS is that it reduces the time it takes for communities to find a problem and fix it in emergency situations.
Additional training sessions will be offered this year in various communities by the Development Authority to ensure that its GIS customers are taking full advantage of the system to benefit their communities.
Development Authority of the North Country Geographic Information System (GIS) Supervisor Star Carter shows Lewis County GIS users practical applications of the data system. The Development Authority currently hosts 66 customers from six counties on its GIS network, most of them municipalities.